Headlines: October 22nd, 1999

Family doctor services have been given positive feedback from a generally grateful public.The results of the first national survey of NHS patients were designed to assess the GP service through the eyes of patients.

A hundred thousand patients were asked to complete a questionaire and the results have been pulled from 60,000 returns.

They cover access and waiting times, communication with patients, patients’ views of GPs’ knowledge, out-of-hours care, courtesy, and the availability and helpfulness of other surgery staff and services.

Headline results released in April are confirmed – the majority are satisfied, felt listened to by the doctor and well treated and informed about their condition or treatment.

Less successfully, one in five patients was not satisfied that they were seen soon enough. A quarter had to wait four or more days to be seen.

Some groups of patients were generally less happy with the service. Patients with less favourable views included younger people (the under 45s), those living in the London region, and those from ethnic minority groups.

New information in the full report just released includes variations by social class, ethnic group, employment status and region. Health authority level data is also being made available on the internet at