A recent survey conducted by Consumers’ Association (Which? March 1993) gives a useful insight into patients’ expectations and experiences of appointments systems and/or open access to their GPs. The report is based on interviews with over 300 patients attending six practices within one FHSA area, and also draws on the comments of the doctors and practice staff. The practice profiles varied widely (list size, single-handed or group practice, one premises or more than one) and between them they provided a fairly typical cross-section of practice-specific problems. Consultation arrangements also varied between the practices, from solely open-access to ‘appointments only’ or a mixture of the two. Doctors used a range of measures to try to make their appointments systems flexible and responsive to emergencies.
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