The Patients’ Association uncovers concerns about receptionist confidentiality in GP surgeries

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According to new research by the Patients’ Association, a significant number of patients are worried about receptionist confidentiality at their GP surgery.

The report by the Patients’ Association, which comprised supporting qualitative data from several patient focus groups, identified poor confidentiality at reception desks. Some patients said it was “impossible” to speak to the receptionist without being overheard, while others said privacy at the reception area “wasn’t good”.

Out of the 720 survey respondents and focus groups, 58% said there was not enough space at their practice to allow reasonable privacy.

The Patients’ Association Chief Executive, Rachel Power, said: “It’s a huge concern that the majority of people completing our survey reported issues relating to privacy and confidentiality at their local surgery. This goes against the law and official NHS guidance, and needs to be addressed.

“Patients who are sick and unwell will already be anxious about going to see a GP. The last thing they should need to worry about is whether their private conversations will be overheard by other people.”

Issues with access for disabled people were also reported, as well as with dated waiting rooms. 4 in 10 patients also said GP surgeries were often old, dilapidated and cramped, and were in need of investment and expansion.

The report said: “While it was clear from this project how highly patients value the NHS, it was also clear that the buildings that house general practice in particular are often old and in need of serious investment and expansion based on the feedback from the participants of this survey.

“If current pressures on the GP workforce are not resolved, at least some care will have to be provided in very different ways in the future, and buildings will be an integral part of that.”

Although most respondents agreed that providing good care and treatment was a higher priority than the state of the building, many recommendations have been made by the Patients’ Association based on what patients said they wanted to see.

These include adequate parking, good transport links, improved signage throughout buildings and better air quality control in waiting rooms. They also wanted toilets and common areas to be clean and adequate, and to have access to additional services such as a pharmacy or café.

The full report is available here.

Last reviewed 23 January 2019

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