Does advanced access improve access to primary health care? Questionnaire survey of patients
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- British Journal of General Practice, 2007, 57 (541), pp. 615 - 621
- Issue Date:
Background: General practices in England have been encouraged to introduce Advanced Access, but there is no robust evidence that this is associated with improved access In ways that matter to patients. Aim: To compare priorities and experiences of patients consulting in practices which do or do not operate Advanced Access. Design of study: Patient questionnaire survey. Setting: Forty-seven practices in 12 primary care trust areas of England. Method: Questionnaire administered when patients consulted. Results: Of 12 825 eligible patients, 10 821 (84%) responded. Most (70%) were consulting about a problem they had had for at least 'a few weeks'. Patients obtained their current appointment sooner in Advanced Access practices, but were less likely to have been able to book in advance. They could usually see a doctor more quickly than those in control practices, but were no more satisfied overall with the appointment system. The top priority for patients was to be seen on a day of choice rather than to be seen quickly, but different patient groups had different priorities. Patients in Advanced Access practices were no more or less likely to obtain an appointment that matched their priorities than those in control practices. Patients in both types of practice experienced problems making contact by telephone. Conclusion: Patients are seen more quickly in Advanced Access practices, but speed of access is less important to patients than choice of appointment; this may be because most consultations are about long-standing problems. Appointment systems need to be flexible to accommodate the different needs of different patient groups. © British Journal of General Practice.
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