Had trouble getting an appointment with your GP in Surrey? You’re not alone!

You said: The people of Surrey told us that GP services were a high priority area in their health & well being. This included specific feedback about problems getting an appointment.

We did: We surveyed over 1,000 local people about their experience of booking an appointment with their GP.

A brief summary (and the full report) of the results can be viewed below.

What does this mean? Lack of access to a GP could be detrimental to your health. It is also inefficient as 1 in 4 say we would attend A&E if faced with difficulties booking an appointment.

What you can do: If your practice cannot offer the options recommended in the report, bring this to the attention of your GP. Pursue the issue with – and consider joining – the Patient Participation Group linked linked with the practice?

What can Healthwatch do? We will use our statutory powers and work with local decision makers to improve the situation. We will publish a progress report in October.

Did you know…78% of GP Practices have an online booking facility, but only 36% of patients know about them?*

A call for evidence: We are an evidence-led organisation that harnesses the voice of the public with people in power.  If you, a friend, or a relative has an untold story or opinion about local services that we should be representing, please take 5 minutes to tell us your story

*of 65 practices (50%) surveyed and 1,111 patient respondents

Key Findings

  • 34% of people have always or often been able to get an appointment on the day of their choosing, and 28% have always or often got an appointment at their chosen time.
  • 37% of people have either rarely or never been able to get an appointment on either the day or at the time they would like.
  • 78% of surgeries surveyed say they offer online booking whilst only 36% of patients report that online booking is an option.
  • A third of respondents were able to book an appointment with their GP of choice either ‘always’ or ‘often’, and a further third were ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ able to book with their preferred GP.
  •  ‘Telephone roulette’ –  Complaints centre on having to phone at a set time, having to repeatedly hit redial, not be able to get through, getting cut off and costly calls.
  • Frustration with other barriers to booking an appointment, such as wheelchair access, unhelpful receptionists, discrimination, the need to accommodate a Carer or coordinate transport.

Preference List

Drawing together respondents’ comments it was clear that people would like:

  • To be able to book appointments in a variety of ways, ranked according to preference:

1. ‘Person to person’ on the phone
2. Online
3. Email
4. In person
5. SMS text
6. Automated telephone

  • A three level booking system:
    1. Emergency same day
    2. Non-emergency appointments for the next seven days
    3. Follow-up appointments for return visits between one week and six months
  • Online and SMS booking facilities
  • Triage, telephone consultations and
    walk in clinics
  • Special provision for the elderly
  • If medical information needs to be divulged at the point of booking an appointment, people would prefer to speak with a medical practitioner such as a nurse.
  • Consistency of care
  • People do not want to be treated differently or ignored because they are perceived to be different or have extra needs

Download a copy of the full Report


 Report: Getting an appointment with your GP: Experiences of the people of Surrey


Listen to BBC Radio Surrey interview with our CEO, Mike Rich



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