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General Practice Patient Survey: the effects of ED attendance on primary healthcare

Addressing patient experience of general practice and policies to improve access in primary care
Unhappy with GP

Addressing patient experience of general practice and policies to improve access in primary care

Pressures on emergency departments (EDs) have resulted in policies to improve access in primary care. There remain questions as to whether this is effective.

This secondary data analysis study investigated whether reported patient experience of general practices was associated with rates of attendance to ED and emergency hospital admissions in England in 2011-12 and 2013-14.

Patient experiences from the General Practice Patient Survey were measures of:

  • Ease of making an appointment
  • Satisfaction with opening hours
  • Overall satisfaction.

Between the two years, practice level rates of ED attendance and emergency admissions increased and patient experience measures scored lower.

A small association was found in lower satisfaction with making appointments and

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Addressing patient experience of general practice and policies to improve access in primary care


Patient experiences from the survey included overall satisfaction with GP services
Picture: Alamy

Pressures on emergency departments (EDs) have resulted in policies to improve access in primary care. There remain questions as to whether this is effective.

This secondary data analysis study investigated whether reported patient experience of general practices was associated with rates of attendance to ED and emergency hospital admissions in England in 2011-12 and 2013-14.

Patient experiences from the General Practice Patient Survey were measures of:

  • Ease of making an appointment
  • Satisfaction with opening hours
  • Overall satisfaction.

Between the two years, practice level rates of ED attendance and emergency admissions increased and patient experience measures scored lower.

A small association was found in lower satisfaction with making appointments and attendance at ED and emergency admissions, but no association was found for the other two patient experience scores and these outcomes. This suggests addressing patient experience of general practice may have only modest effects on ED attendance.

Cowling TE, Majeed A, Harris MJ (2018) Patient experience of general practice and use of emergency hospital services in England: regression analysis of national cross-sectional time series data. BMJ Quality & Safety. pii: bmjqs


About the author

Vari Drennan is professor of healthcare and policy research, St George’s University of London and Kingston University, London

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