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What is the point of the Ipsos MORI Patient Survey?

So, the latest Ipsos MORI Survey on GP practices has just been published and shows a general fall in patient satisfaction across the country, of about 10% on average.

The survey was from mid-January to mid-April 2022, when we were still coping with the Covid pandemic.

As we are all aware, the face of primary care has changed dramatically. With the advent of more online facilities, we have adapted to the 21st century—yes, probably too fast for some, but these changes were badly needed.

Most things we do nowadays, from booking an appointment to seeing a GP, have changed and we are being encouraged by the NHS to be more focussed on online consultations and triaging, and ensuring that the patient sees the most appropriate clinician.

We have a different workforce too, that now includes social prescribers, physios, physician associates, advanced nurse practitioners and so on.

However, the questions on the Ipsos MORI survey are (in my opinion) out of date. In our case, just 2% of patients were sent a survey and less than half of those responded.

The questions are more suited to the primary care of the 20th century and so I don’t see what the benefits are today. When they do get the survey, it is many pages long, and currently seems to concentrate on telephone access, seeing a clinician at the time of a patients choosing, and being able to see or speak to the patient’s chosen clinician at a time suitable for the patient.

In many of my blogs I seem to say that patients today are not advised by the media or the government that primary care has actually changed, and that we as surgeries follow their guidance in how and when we provide services.

So, the cynic in me thinks the fact that the survey has not been updated for years is deliberate, so that the biased questions achieve the type of survey results we have seen this year.

The desire of the government is to make out that primary care is failing, and it is nothing to do with the government, and so it makes a case for wanting to privatise more services.  Access will deteriorate further if the model of primary care is privatised further. You only have to look at the recent Panorama documentary to prove this.

Looking at our results against our Friends and Family test, which we do weekly, it never falls below 95% satisfaction, so looking at NHS Choices with a score of 4.5 does not reflect the results of the patient survey.

There needs to be a revised survey reflecting the service changes in place.

COVID VACCINATIONS UPDATE

The announcement has just been made that the Covid booster vaccination programme is going to be extended to the over 50s starting in September. Again, perfect timing by the government as expressions of interest to assist in the programme close on the July 14th.

The offer to take part was not clear and the payment rate had not been confirmed; there are also various caveats for those wanting to take part, such as vaccinations for care homes and housebound patients.

At the same time as this announcement, we heard another U-turn on this year’s flu policy. 

The new health secretary is saying all over 50s can also have the flu vaccine. Earlier in the year we were told this was not happening, so we all adjusted our orders accordingly. Now, with about 6 weeks to go to the start of the programme, we have to alter our plans and try to source extra flu vaccines.

I understand that the flu vaccination can, however, be given at the same time as the Covid vaccination.

With 6 weeks to go, we are really no clearer on how exactly this year we can deliver both the programmes and still do all our routine work. More than likely there may be a view on the routine work, as surely the vaccination programme is of equal importance.

So, there does not seem that there will be any let up in the pressures we face. But, somehow, we will get though.


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