Access to GP Services

This report captures the voices and experiences of people across the Wigan Borough who are accessing services at their General Practice (GP). We engaged with over 300 residents to hear how practices are continuing to interact with them.

Introduction

Over the last 18 months the pandemic has forced health services to interact with their patients in very different ways due to the fast shift to remote consultation. More recently, in July 2021, restrictions have been eased. However, Healthwatch Wigan and Leigh have received a significant number of comments from the public with concerns about not being able to access the services at their GP. Consequently, we identified four key areas to explore within our piece of work. 1. Information on GP Websites We wanted to find out whether the information provided on GP websites was easy to navigate, accessible and up to date. 2. Accessing an appointment We wanted to understand how people wanted to make appointments and how easy this was for them and how it had changed due to the pandemic. 3. Using technology We wanted to hear about the digital platforms people were using to access their surgery; and what was working well for them. 4. Clinical Professionals In addition, we also carried out interviews with professionals working in the primary care setting to contextualise people’s experiences from a clinical perspective and to find out how these changes had affected working practices. Prior to this piece of work Healthwatch Wigan and Leigh had been involved in a project led by Healthwatch England looking at how the shift to remote care had affected people at greater risk of digital exclusion. From November 2020 to January 2021, we spoke to groups of patients more likely to experience digital exclusion, including older people, people with disabilities, people with limited English or for whom English was not their first language. We wanted to understand why and how this can impact on their healthcare experiences.

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