A new survey by the Patients Association shows a high degree of confidence among patients about visiting GP premises in person, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Two thirds of patients reported feeling very (35%) or somewhat (31%) confident about making such a visit.

Measures such as having hand sanitiser and Perspex screens at reception would increase this confidence further, with relatively few patients concerned about them. Patients reported that Perspex screens would make them feel either very or a little safe (74%), confident (92%) and comfortable (89%), with only 15% feeling they would be very or a little anxious. A clear majority (67%) would not enter the building without hand sanitiser being available.

Other measures that patients wanted to see included signs clearly reminding people to wear face masks (52% would not enter the building without them) and giving directions for navigating around the building (47%). A one-way system was identified as something that would make patients feel more comfortable (47% reporting this, 33% citing it as a requirement to enter the building), as were floor markings for social distancing (46% ‘more comfortable’ and 32% ‘requirement’).

Just over a third (36%) of respondents managed to visit their GP practice in person during the coronavirus period, although 79% had used GP services of some sort. Those who were able to attend in person overwhelmingly felt welcome (89%), safe (93%) and confident (89%), although 47% also reported feeling anxious to some degree.

The survey also provides further confirmation that for remote consultations, phone calls (offered to 78% of respondents) were the mainstream option, compared to video calls (offered only to 7%). However, phone calls resolved the patient’s issue in 62% of cases, but not the remaining 38%.

Rachel Power, Chief Executive of the Patients Association, commented: “These results show that patients are keen to visit their GP’s premises in person, and feel confident about doing so. They also show that remote consultations have worked well for some patients, but that real-world access to premises is essential for others. In reopening its primary care services, the NHS must ensure that the options for accessing GP premises meet the needs of all patients, and build on the strong confidence in visiting their GPs that patients continue to hold.”

Notes

The survey was conducted online and taken by 513 people in July and August 2020. It was promoted to patients by the Patients Association, Marie Curie and local Healthwatches.

This survey was sponsored by a non-restricted grant by Assura, a company who design, build and maintain healthcare buildings.

Read the full report.