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Berkshire West patients are being urged to take part in a nationwide NHS survey

Patients across Berkshire West are being urged to take part in a nationwide NHS survey which is launched this week.

The findings will give the NHS a comprehensive, up- to- date understanding of how GP practices are operating, what’s working well and what needs developing further. The information will be used to make sure primary care services develop and change to meet the needs of local  people.

More than two million people across the UK have been randomly selected for the GP Patient Survey and will be receiving letters asking them to fill in the questionnaire. They can do this online or by post and there’s a range of support for people who need help to take part.

The questions cover not just the work of GPs, but also practice nurses, mental health specialists, community pharmacists and other healthcare professionals now based within Primary Care Networks (PCNs).

The aim is to find out more about people’s experiences of using online and telephone services, extended hours appointments and face-to-face consultations. The survey also looks at how much support people get to manage long-term conditions and medication.

Cathy Winfield, Chief Officer for Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “The survey gives us an incredibly useful picture of what’s working well within our area so we can build on best practice and make sure it’s carried out across the board.

“Just as importantly, it provides us with a clear understanding of areas that need our attention, not just locally, but for the wider NHS,” she said.

“People expect our health and social care services to be modern, fast, efficient and effective and this, coupled with a growing and ageing population, puts great demands on our primary care services.

“We’re making major strides with our digital agenda which gives patients a faster and more direct way of interacting with their local surgeries. They can now make appointments, order repeat prescriptions online 24/7. GPs are also offering an extended hours service with appointments available in the evenings and at weekends

“And as part of our PCN work, we’re bringing a whole range of health and social care services closer to people’s homes so they can access Social Prescribers, pharmacists and physiotherapists through their local surgeries,” said Cathy.

“We’ve also got ambitious plans for the mental health services so people suffering mental health problems can access help more quickly and closer to where they are living.

“As with all the services we commission and are responsible for, we rely on feedback from people who use them, their families and other key people to make sure we’re getting it right and the care provided is fit for purpose,” she said.

Patients who are not invited to take part in the survey can still provide useful feedback to their GPs by filling in a Friends and Family Test (FFT) form at their practice at any time. More than 1.2 million pieces of feedback on NHS-funded services are given this way every month and they help to continuously improve and take the pulse of healthcare across England, with nine in 10 patients who give feedback rating their experience positively.

If you need medical help and are unsure what to do, call NHS 111 for help and advice. They are available 24 hours a day.