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Patient privacy at Telford GP surgery receptions 'a problem', says report

Telford | Health | Published:

Patient confidentiality and privacy in GP surgery reception areas “remain a problem”, according to a report.

Researchers from Healthwatch Telford & Wrekin, an independent patient champion, toured all 22 GP sites across the borough, making observations and inviting patients to comment on topics including accessibility, appointments and information.

“Overall, people’s experience of practice medical staff was found to be good,” said the report, which went before a Telford & Wrekin NHS Clinical Commissioning Group committee.

“Doctors and staff need to be trained around mental health and take more time to talk to patients. This can be valuable to some,” it continued.

“Receptionist attitudes can vary between practices, resulting in some negative experiences for patients.

“Approachable and friendly staff who take time to listen and help patients enabled people to have a positive experience.

“Reception staff need to be aware about patient confidentiality when discussing personal matters with patients.

“People can be overheard during conversations between patients and reception staff – some related to sensitive matters.”

Difficulty

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It gave specific examples, including a researcher’s observation that Leegomery Surgery offered “no privacy at reception” and a patient bringing up the same topic at Sutton Hill Medical Practice.

At Stirchley Medical Practice, Healthwatch’s researcher noted “a patient was talking and sharing confidential issues with the receptionist; all could hear”.

But at Dawley Medical Practice, the report said, the reception desk was “far enough away for patient confidentiality.”

Summarising the report, GGC Primary Care Quality Lead Jane Sullivan, Patient Experience Lead Angela Porter and Commissioning Mananger Darren Francis wrote that patients “express difficulty in accessing appointments” and experience varying waiting time.

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Practices “displayed relevant information for patients”, but “information about PPGs [Patient Participation Groups] did vary”.

They add that the CCG’s Primary Care team have reviewed the report, and said the themes in it match those from other sources.

They note that 475 out of approximately 160,000 patients were surveyed. The authors add that the Healthwatch visits took place throughout 2018, many preceded the launch of GP extended access in October and changes to the phone system used at some practices, both of which may have improved patients’ experience since.

Telford and Wrekin CCG’s Primary Care Commissioning Committee received the report when it met yesterday (Tuesday, August 6).

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