Patients will rate their access to care in general practice in ‘real time’ via text message, NHS England has announced.
They will receive text messages as they finish their consultation asking questions about their experience of accessing support. The scheme will be rolled out nationally and incentivised as early as April 2022.
NHS Digital will also be publishing practice-level GP appointment data and waiting times by spring next year, which will include the ‘proportions of appointment by different professions’ and whether appointments are face-to-face or remote.
NHS England said it wants to ‘increase its oversight of practices with the most acute issues in relation to access’. Currently, monthly appointment data is only published by CCGs.
NHS England said the survey, which is being piloted in around 60 practices and will be rolled out next year, has been ‘previously agreed with the profession’.
The PCN Investment and Impact Fund (IIF) will also incentivise patient satisfaction for 2022/23.
The scale of incentives will increase in 2023/24 in line with the planned GP contract envelope, when the money aimed at improving access will rise to at least £100m of the £300m fund.
This comes as part of NHS England’s plan for general practice. It has committed winter funding of £250m to ‘increase the proportion of appointments delivered face to face’.
But the British Medical Association (BMA) has said the plan is ‘flawed and patient care will suffer as a result’, with committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey adding his disappointment that there it ‘no end in sight to the preoccupation with face-to-face appointments’.
Meanwhile, commissioners have been told to immediately begin identifying the 20% of practices in their area that are performing worst in terms of delivering face-to-face appointments.
Practices with the lowest face-to-face appointment levels may be forced to partner with other practices or face contractual action from commissioners.