Healthwatch Surrey and Age UK Surrey urge local health bosses to ensure primary care planning is “future proof”

23rd March 2016
  • “Local health economy must listen to the needs of Surrey’s growing older population” says Healthwatch
  • New report highlights key areas of concern for over 65s in accessing GPs, pharmacies, dentists and out-of-hours services

A report released today by Surrey’s champion for health and social care is highlighting the difficulties over 65s are experiencing when using primary care services like their GP, dentist or pharmacy.

In four focus groups that were held across the county, most of those who took part said they were generally happy with the care they received, but there were a number of common concerns. These included:

  • Appointment slots that are too short for those with complex needs
  • Feelings of vulnerability when the GP surgery is closed
  • Transport needs for non-drivers.

Kate Scribbins, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Surrey, explained why the investigation was carried out:

“The percentage of over 65s in Surrey is already over the national average and is projected to rise. For a population that are proportionally heavier users of health and care services, it is vital that services are accessible in order to help people remain independent and healthier for longer”.

The interim findings of the report, “Just getting on with it” have already been shared with senior decision making bodies such as the Surrey Health and Wellbeing Board and Wellbeing and Health Scrutiny Boards.

Healthwatch Surrey is also calling on Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across the county to ensure that the findings of this report will inform their five-year Sustainability and Transformation Plans.

Kate continued: “As a generation that perceives themselves as particularly stoical, as one participant put it, more likely to “get on with it” or “dose it yourself” than visit the doctor, it is vital when over 65s do have concerns that those concerns are taken seriously”.

Age UK Surrey supported Healthwatch Surrey in running two of the focus groups, in Oxted and Godalming.  Sue Zirps, CEO at Age UK Surrey is keen to highlight that within the over 65 group experiences on accessing healthcare vary widely.  Sue said:  “The research highlights that for people who do not drive or own a computer and do not have access to online information and booking have a very different experience to those that do.  In the case of accessing healthcare, one size does not fit all!”

People can share their experiences with Healthwatch and get information about local services at their local Citizens Advice Bureaux, by phoning 0303 303 0023 (local rate) or online at, where a copy of the report is also available.

For more information, email  or call 07545 433465.




  1. The report is based on four focus groups carried out with over 65s between May and October 2015 in Leatherhead, Oxted, Ash and Godalming with the support of partner organisations, Age UK Surrey, Healthwatch England and Godalming Older People’s Welfare Association.
  2. A copy of the report, “Just Getting On With It. Accessing primary care in Surrey: Views and experiences of people over 65 years” is available at:
  3. This investigation builds on the previous Healthwatch Surrey report, Getting an appointment with your GP: Experiences of the people of Surrey” (July 2014)