Patients in Bradford are frustrated by the varying standards of GP and dental care across the district, Healthwatch Bradford and District has found.
The organisation has published a report about what people think about their local services and said that although some were positive about their experiences, there was a strong feeling of discontent.
The document is called ‘Invisible at the desk’, based on how one person described how they felt when visiting their GP, and is a “snapshot of what Healthwatch has heard about Primary Care services in Bradford and District since April 2013.”
Healthwatch received almost 600 comments during forums. The main problems people raised were: difficulty in getting GP appointments; problems with the attitude or knowledge of staff; a lack of continuity of care, particularly with people not getting to see their own doctor.
Julia Hall, of Thornbury, went to a Healthwatch event in October, where she took part in group discussions about GP services. She said:“Listening to people talking at the Healthwatch events was really interesting. GP surgeries all seem to be doing different things and it highlighted some of the health inequalities in our city.”
Andrew Jones, manager of Healthwatch Bradford and District said: “We heard about some good GPs in the district, where systems are working well and people can see a doctor when they need to, and where people feel like staff understand and meet their individual needs. Everyone in Bradford district should be able to expect this.
“However the views highlighted in our report show that some groups of people have particularly bad experiences, such as people with mental health needs or from minority ethnic communities. It’s frustrating that good practice doesn’t always seem to be shared across the district and patients still feel that it’s a ‘postcode lottery’. Healthwatch want the organisations in charge of improving services to bring all practices up to the standard of the best.”
Healthwatch says that improving access to GP services, particularly at evenings and weekends is vital.
A spokesman for Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, Bradford City and Bradford Districts CCGs said: “This report will be a valuable tool to help us understand what local people think about healthcare services, what is working well and the kind of improvements they would like to see.
“While CCGs do not commission GP or dental services, we do have a role in driving up quality in general practice and the report will inform this important area of work. We are keen to hear people’s views on services.”
People can still share their experiences by calling 0300 56 10987.