How did your St Albans GP score in annual NHS patient survey?

GP surgeries serving St Albans

How did your GP surgery score in the 2021 NHS Patient survey? - Credit: Google Streetview

A third of St Albans residents struggle to get in touch with their doctor's surgery by telephone, according to a new NHS survey.

The Herts Ad is today publishing a table of 17 GP surgeries in and around St Albans, showing how they scored with their patients.  

The survey, conducted by Ipsos MORI on behalf of NHS England, sees a questionnaire sent to two million residents. 

This year, approximately 850,000 of them replied. 

In the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area, which includes St Albans, more than 7,400 people completed the survey. 

Here is how outcomes in and around St Albans compared to the national picture. 

Overall satisfaction 

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Nationally, an average of 83 per cent of people said their overall experience of their GP surgery was good. 

In the Herts Valleys CCG region, it was 86 per cent. 

Twelve out of 17 GP surgeries serving St Albans residents were in line with, or better than, the national average. 

The number one surgery was Grange Street, where 93 per cent of patients described their overall experience as good. 

Gail Davie, practice manager, said staff were “delighted” to have topped the chart, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

She said part of the success was down to the surgery’s “personal list system”, under which efforts are made to ensure patients are always seen by the same GP, ensuring “continuity of care”. 

“I would like to thank our patients for taking the time to respond to the survey and also all the doctors and staff for their continued commitment and dedication in what has been a very challenging and demanding time for everyone,” said Ms Davie. 

Garston Medical Centre 

The surgery with the least satisfied patients was the Garston Medical Centre, between St Albans and Watford, where 69 per cent of patients described their overall experience as good. 

Of those surveyed, 55 per cent of the surgery’s patients said their experience of making an appointment was good, 59 per cent were satisfied with the time of their appointment – but only 37 per cent said they found it easy to get through by telephone. 

Dr Rami Eliad apologised to patients and said the surgery had already taken steps to improve their experiences. 

“We contacted our patients who raised concerns and a lot of it was to do with our telephone system,” he said.  

“The way things have gone, everything has gone over to the telephone. We had a traditional system with fixed lines.  

“Patients didn’t like the fact that there wasn’t an effective, cloud-based queuing system so that they know where they are in the queue and they can press a button to say ‘call me back when my time comes’. 

“We have worked with the CCG and with medical telephone providers and have agreed in the last two weeks with a new provider. All being well, that system will be coming in at the end of September.” 

Telephone access 

Across England, 68 per cent of people said they found it easy to get through to their surgery by telephone. 

In the Herts Valleys, it was 67 per cent. 

Once again, 12 out of 17 surgeries were in line with or better than the national average.  

One problem highlighted by the survey was that difficulty making contact with a surgery can deter people from seeking medical help. 

Nationally, 11 per cent of people said they had avoided making a GP appointment because they found it too difficult. 

Eight surgeries in and around St Albans were higher than the national average.  

The highest was the Maltings Surgery. 

Despite an overall satisfaction rating of 86 per cent – above the national average – almost one in five surveyed patients (19 per cent) said they had avoided making appointments because they found it too difficult.

A spokesperson said: “We are delighted that patients are generally satisfied with our service during the COVID-19 global pandemic, but aware that some patients have struggled to get through to us.

"We have listened to feedback and are working hard on solutions with our staff and our phone provider, which should improve access from next week.”

A CCG spokesperson said they were "delighted" by the overall results, adding: "We know that in the very early stages of the pandemic people held off on seeing their GP for various reasons, but we have consistently encouraged patients to seek help if they need it and the survey results show an increase in patients contacting their GP over the last six months."