Access to general practice in Devon

Understanding people’s experiences of accessing GP appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic

We recently published NHS Devon CCG’s open letter to the people of Devon about accessing GP practices.

We know that people delayed contacting their GP about their healthcare needs during this time because they didn’t want to put pressure on vital services, or they were concerned about accessing healthcare during the pandemic.  But now GP practices in Devon are busier than ever.

While practices have had to move to greater use of telephone and online appointments, they have continued to offer face to face appointments to those that need them.

Anecdotally over the last few months, the CCG has started to receive reports of patients struggling to access their GP.

While these reports were increasing, the CCG hadn’t been presented with any data to demonstrate this apart from some very specific patient experience shared with us from Healthwatch Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.

In order to test people’s experience, the CCG ran a temperature check with the  Virtual Voices Panel. We wanted to hear about people’s experiences of GP appointments over the last year, and if they hadn’t had to use them, whether they would know how to.

The representation of the VVP has been established using ACORN classifications, which allows the segmentation of the population of Devon. By analysing demographic data, social factors, population, and consumer behaviour, it provides precise information and an understanding of different types of people, and recruiting the panel to these classifications, allows the panel to be truly representative of the population.

We wanted to strengthen the responses we had received, by holding a further focus group with VVP representatives to give opportunity to tell us about their experiences.

Engagement reports

You can download the executive summary here

You can download the full engagement report here