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The idea of the family GP is now largely a thing of the past

Posted Apr 02 2014 5:07am

New research by a specialist firm of medical negligence solicitors has discovered that the tradition of the family doctor may now be a thing of the past, as only 4% of Britons say they see their own doctor every time they have an appointment with a GP due to long waiting times.

The research was conducted by Medical Accident Group as part of an ongoing study into how accessible doctors and locums are within the UK.  A total of 2,312 people aged 18 and over from around the UK, all of whom had been registered with the same surgery for a minimum of 5 years, were asked about their experiences when it came to visiting their GP.

Initially, all respondents were asked ‘On average, how many times a year do you visit your doctors surgery?’ with the majority, 41%, stating ‘3 to 4 times per year’. Out of the remaining respondents, 37% said that they attended their doctors surgery ‘1 to 2 times per year’, on average, whilst 16% said they went ‘5 or more times per year’ and 6% said they ‘never’ went to the doctors surgery.

All respondents were then asked how long the average waiting time would be to see their own/family doctor. Once all results were collated it was discovered that Britons were told that they would have to wait 4 week, on average, to see their own doctor for an appointment.

According to the poll, only 4% of Britons are able to see their own/family doctor every time they attend for an appointment, and 72% of people no longer bother to ask for an appointment specifically with their own doctor. The majority of these, 88%, claimed that this was simply so that they could get an appointment more quickly, whilst only 3% said that it was because they had no preference which doctor they saw.

The respondents were then asked if they had called for a doctor to make a home visit at all over the past 5 years. The majority, 76%, said ‘no’. Out of those who had stated ‘yes’, only 12% said that their family doctor had turned up at least once, with the remaining 88% always having alternative doctors.

Peter Savage, Partner at Medical Accident Group, commented: “It’s a real shame that Britons struggle as much as they do to get an appointment with their own family doctor, particularly for those who have had the same doctor for their entire life. The relationship between a patient and their doctor is an important one and is all about trust. Regular visits and contact allows patients to feel more at ease during appointments and makes them much more likely to go to their doctor when they’re worried about something, or have something wrong that they may deem embarrassing.”

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