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Your spotlight on local services

PRESS RELEASE Healthwatch Harrow GP Access Report


Harrow patients waiting on average seven to ten days before they can see their

preferred GP


Healthwatch Harrow’s GP Access Report London Borough of Harrow 2017*, states that 60% of Harrow residents find it difficult to get an appointment to see their GP with an average waiting time of seven to ten days to see their preferred GP.  

The report was launched on 27 September 2017 by Enterprise Wellness Ltd, the organization that manages the Healthwatch Harrow service.  Over 80 local residents attended the launch, along with representatives from Healthwatch England, the Care Quality Commission, Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group, and a number of local voluntary and community sector organisations. 

Patients report difficulties in accessing and making appointments with their GP surgeries linked to phones being continuously busy, poor communication and attitude of some surgery staff.  The report highlights the need to ensure that GP services are responsive to meet the needs of the different communities in Harrow.

The report details patient’s issues relating to Harrow’s NHS GP services that range from registering with a GP, experiencing difficulties making or booking an appointment with a GP, to understanding how to make a complaint if they are unhappy with GP services.  The research team reviewed a total of 34 Harrow GP practices, and a review of 15 GP CQC (Care Quality Commission) inspection reports from January 2016 to January 2017.   The research team also conducted a mystery shopping exercise of all the 34 GP practices.

The Report found that nearly 50% of Harrow residents did not know how to make a complaint about their GP practices and 56% of patients were not aware of all the out of hours services and when or how to access these services, such as Walk In Clinics, Urgent Care Centers and Pharmacies.  Patients reported that they found it difficult to cancel GP appointments due to phone lines being continuously busy.  Some GP websites had inaccurate and or out of date information on NHS Helpline numbers, health advocacy services and Walk-in Centre information.   From the review of the 15 GP CQC inspection reports, 67% of Harrow GPs were rated as ‘Good’ and 27% rated as ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’.

Healthwatch Harrow recommends five areas that Harrow GP practices can improve the services they provide to residents.

  1. Harrow GP practices must address patient’s frustrations and difficulties making and booking appointments, and improve their phone and online appointment booking systems to reduce patient waiting times.  As well as reviewing the effectiveness of their GP texting service in reducing missed appointments.
  2. They must provide clear and updated information in their surgeries and websites to help patients access services such as, walk-in centers, pharmacy services, translation services, and the complaints processes in adherence with the Accessible Information Standard. The Accessible Information Standard was introduced by the NHS in August 2016, it legally requires all organisations that provide NHS care or adult social care, to provide information that is easy to read and understand to support people with disabilities.
  3. They must make reasonable adjustments for patients and carers with disabilities as stated in the Equalities Act 2010
  1. GPs practices must improve accessibility to their health centres and services particularly for patients with language, mental health and learning disabilities.
  2. They must develop and adopt better sharing of good internal standard models of practice across all GP surgeries to ensure consistent and good quality standards of practice.

Ash Verma - Chair of Enterprise Wellness Ltd, said in his welcoming remarks at the launch: “For most of us, GPs are a critical pathway to our wellness.   As the local consumer champion for health and social care, we are grateful to the many local residents who participated in our research.”   Ash added: “This launch is the first in the current series of Healthwatch Harrow Forums, where local people tell us what concerns them most about local health and social care, as well as what is good.”

Mina Kakaiya - Manager Healthwatch Harrow said: “We would like to see GP’s developing better working partnership with other local organisations involved in providing primary care services in Harrow.  This will help to address some of the disparities highlighted in our report and raise consistencies across all GP practices in Harrow.  We would like every patient, whatever their background and wherever they live in the borough, to have easier access to primary care services.”

James Slater, Interim Head of Primary Care at Harrow Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We welcome the Healthwatch Harrow GP Access Report.   The Report – which is consistent with other national work - identifies issues for consideration for us as a CCG and for our member Practices. This is really timely as Harrow GP Practices have recently agreed to work together on a national improvement programme called “Releasing Time for Care” and so focus on better Primary Care across Harrow.” 

Alvin Kinch, Engagement Manager, Healthwatch England said: “It’s good to see what Healthwatch Harrow has done in their local area.  Their GP Access Report shows what is important to local people. These voices will be heard by organisations planning and delivering the services. Healthwatch England supports local healthwatch to make an impact locally, and I look forward to seeing the changes that occur because of Healthwatch Harrow’s report.”

To access the full report or a summary of the findings please visit:

* http://www.healthwatchharrow.co.uk/news/healthwatch-harrow-gp-access-executive-summary-report-2017

To find out more about Healthwatch Harrow visit http://www.healthwatchharrow.co.uk/

or call 020 3432 2889.