News

GP Services in Wales: The Perspective of Older People

28.2.17

There are significant and unacceptable variations in older people’s experiences of accessing and using GP services in Wales, with particular issues around the appointments booking process, the accessibility of GP surgeries and the surgery environment, the time available for appointments, communication and privacy.

That’s the finding of a new report – GP Services in Wales: The Perspective of Older People – published today by the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales.

The Commissioner’s findings are based on information shared by over 1,600 older people from across Wales and a wide range of stakeholders from the public and third sectors.

Whilst a number of those who responded spoke in positive terms about their GP services, many others shared concerns and highlighted a range of issues that can create unnecessary challenges and barriers.

These issues may prevent older people from accessing GP services, or push them towards accessing other, less appropriate unscheduled care services, which has a negative impact upon their health and wellbeing.

Discussing the report and its findings, the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira, said: “I understand the significant pressures being faced by GP services and the wider primary care sector and the real challenges that these pressures can create.

“But at a time like this, it is more important than ever to listen to and understand older people’s experiences in order to address any concerns and deliver continuous improvements to ensure that a greater cost isn’t paid further down the line.

“My report captures the voices of older people in communities across Wales who rely upon their GP services to provide them with high quality, safe, timely and effective health care close to home, and to support their access to a much wider range of health and social services.

“It is vital that the good practice already underway, which is highlighted throughout my report becomes the standard across Wales so that all older people can have a positive experience when accessing and using GP services.”

“I therefore expect Health Boards to act upon its findings to ensure that these are flexible and responsive to older people’s individual needs, particularly those living with a sensory loss, cognitive impairment or dementia, those who are carers or those who are vulnerable.”

Alongside the report, the Commissioner has used her powers under the Commissioner for Older People (Wales) Act 2006 to issue formal guidance to Health Boards, which they must have regard to when discharging their functions. The guidance sets out expected outcomes for older people using GP services and includes examples of good practice and suggested scrutiny questions for Health Board members.

The Commissioner added: “Whilst I do not underestimate the challenges of delivering the change required, a failure to address the issues highlighted in my report will have a significant impact not only on wider health services and the public purse, but more importantly on the health and wellbeing of older people across Wales.”

Click here to download GP Services in Wales - The Perspective of Older People

Breakdown of Questionnaire Responses