Almost half of people feel the top improvement at their local doctors’ surgery would be more GPs, a survey has suggested.
A total of 44% people said that would be their priority if they could make one change to their local practice, the research for the British Medical Association (BMA) found.
It was by far the most popular choice, followed by 14% saying they would want the number of available phone lines increased, 10% saying they would want more healthcare staff – other than doctors – and 7% saying they would want more practice nurses.
A total of 13% said they would not make any improvements, the poll of people in England showed.
The survey findings were published as the BMA launched a campaign urging the public to “Support Your Surgery”.
It includes a petition people can sign which demands more Government investment to fund improved buildings and recruit more GPs.
It also involves being “upfront and honest” with patients about the pressures services are under, the backlog, and how it can be addressed, said Dr Richard Vautrey, GP committee chair at the BMA.
He said: “We know that Covid-19 has changed how GP services look and feel, and that it can be incredibly frustrating for patients who just want to see their doctor, face-to-face, without delay.
“We, like the rest of the NHS, were ill-prepared for the pandemic – with decades of underfunding and seriously short on staff, and the consequences of the last 18 months have added significantly to these pressures.
“They have also been understandably very stressful for patients and, sadly, this has resulted in poor behaviours, or worse, with some staff reporting cases of abuse and violence from patients.
“This isn’t the way we want it to be. GPs and their teams are just as frustrated, and while the general practice workforce have done everything in their power to improve pressures in their own surgeries, we can’t make the changes we and our patients want to see without urgent Government backing and funding.”
When it comes to the backlog in routine appointments, a similar percentage of respondents felt responsibility lay with the Government (27%) and GPs and other practice staff (26%).
Almost a fifth (19%) attributed it to those responsible for the management of the NHS, while 14% said responsibility lay with local commissioning groups.
Dr Vautrey said: “All doctors want to do is help their patients, but we need the right funding and resources to do that, and to the standard that our communities understandably expect.
“We hope this campaign, with GPs and patients working together, is the beginning of not only giving general practice what it needs, but also what our patients rightfully deserve.
“We therefore urge everyone to sign our petition calling on Government to provide the funding we need for better services and more doctors. If you support your surgery, it means it can be there to support you.”
An NHS spokesperson said: “Record numbers of people are now training to become GPs, with up to 4,000 people expected to start this year.
“The NHS has also introduced financial incentives for those who complete their training in more deprived parts of the country as well as investing in a number of schemes to retain and recruit over 6,000 GPs and over 26,000 to the wider general practice workforce.”
– BritainThinks surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,732 adults in England online between and August 6 and 8.