Frustration at making GP appointments and getting past ‘gate-keeping’ receptionists are among Bradford patients’ biggest gripes.

Those gripes and others have been put to a meeting of practices from across the district to help promote new ways of working which could help ease pressure on busy surgeries and improve patients’ experience.

Identifying the problems people face in accessing their GPs and suggesting how things could be improved will lead to a better use of services, says Dr Bridget Pitcairn, chairman of NHS Bradford Districts Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) GP quality group.

The CCG has been working with patients and GP practices as well as Healthwatch Bradford and District and voluntary and community groups to get to the heart of the access issue.

Dr Pitcairn said: “Improving patients’ access to primary care services is a priority for us.

“We know this is an area of concern for many patients and we are working closely with our member GP practices and NHS England on this important issue. We’ve had a really positive response from practices with many taking part in the review and almost all of them attending the workshop to discuss moving the ideas forward.”

Recommendations from the review include practices rethinking how their phone lines are managed, using video-link GP consultations, encouraging more on-line appointment bookings and helping patients and carers be more confident to self-care themselves.

CCG Clinical chairman, Dr Andy Withers said: “Access to GP services is not just a local issue it’s national – and it’s so important because if patients have problems accessing GP services it can have a knock-on effect across the whole of the local NHS system.

“It can result in more people going to A&E or calling the out-of-hours service, when their condition could have been dealt with in the GP surgery or with advice from a pharmacist or self-care.”