Less than half of patients saw a GP in person during the first quarter of this year

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Those patients who last had an in-person appointment were more likely to say their needs were met (95 percent) compared with those who spoke on the phone (92 percent).

Overall, 42 percent said they had avoided making a GP appointment in the past year, with a fifth of those saying this was because they were worried about the burden on the NHS, 17 percent because they feared they would catch Covid and 11 percent because they found it too difficult.

But there has been a one percent rise in satisfaction to 83 percent, said the GP patient survey for England of more than 850,000 people.

Beccy Baird, of think-tank The King’s Fund, said: “Over 95 percent of people trusted the person caring for them at their last appointment. This is reassuring but these results are not spread evenly, with people living in more deprived areas more likely to report negative experiences.

“Over 40 percent of people avoided making appointments, in many cases to protect the NHS or because they were worried about catching Covid-19.

“As this pent-up demand starts to come back into the system many GPs, and other parts of the health system, are facing a capacity crunch.

“The Government and NHS leaders need to consider how general practice will be supported.”

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