Visits to GP surgeries: waiting and duration

Good access to general practice is an important aspect of good quality care. The GP Patient Survey gives patients the opportunity to comment on their experience of their GP practice and other local NHS services, including how long they waited to see someone when attending an appointment and whether they felt they were given enough time during the appointment itself.

How long do patients have to wait to see someone at the GP surgery?

In 2015/16, 26.7% of patients had to wait 15 minutes or longer to see the GP or nurse after their appointment time, which has not changed a great deal over the last number of years. In 2015/16, one quarter of patients felt they had to wait a bit too long and a further 9% said that they had to wait far too long. This has stayed quite constant.

Updated August 2016.

How did patients feel about how good GPs and nurses were at giving them enough time?

In 2015/16, 85% of respondents felt their GP was good or very good at giving them enough time. This has decreased slightly from 87% in 2011/12. 79% felt their nurse had been good at giving them enough time in 2015/16. This had also decreased slightly from 81% in 2013/14.

Updated August 2016.

About this data

The percentages are weighted and error bars in the charts presented here represent +/- 95% confidence intervals.

The earlier data points report financial year data. Since, 2013/14 the data points represent responses to questionnaires sent in two waves, from July to September and January to March and therefore these data points do not represent a full financial year. In 2013/14 there is possibly a slight overlap with 2012/13 data, making them not fully comparable to the other data points in the series.

The number of respondents to the GP patient survey has decreased year on year. For more information, including technical methodology please see the NHS England, GP Patient Survey.


So, practically no change then. But it could all be so different. You are asking for patients' opinions about how long they waited to be seen, which is subjective. And this says nothing about how long they waited to get an appointment, which is far more important. It's much more powerful to measure the actual times people wait to see their GP. Take a look at this series, and spot the change:

Harry Longman (not verified)
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Dear Harry,

Thank you for your comments and interest in QualityWatch. This is an interesting point and is one of the reasons we include so many indicators in this research programme. We try to look at quality from all angles, from patient experience indicators to more objective measures such as access data. However, we are often limited by the data collected and shared by others. As such, it’s always useful to hear about other data sources we’ve not yet explored so thank you for sharing this.

Best wishes,

The QualityWatch Team

The QualityWatc... (not verified)
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I changed G.P. in August last year. My old G.P. practice had a walk in surgery from 8.30 until 10 each day. which meant waiting for up to three hours to see a G.P. For booked appointments average waiting time was three weeks, with if you nominated a specific doctor could take 4 to five weeks. My new G.P. has surgery form 8 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. and bookings can be made within 48 hours. within an on call service if urgent . The two practice are only four miles apart, yet the quality of service from my new GP practice is vastly superior to the old one.

John O'Brien (not verified)
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