The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales is concerned that older people may be struggling to access GP services that meet their needs, and is inviting older people to contact her office to share their experiences so she can identify issues that need to be tackled by GP practices, health boards and the Welsh Government.
Changes to the way GP services are delivered in Wales have accelerated significantly since the pandemic, and the Commissioner is concerned that older people are at risk of being left behind and excluded.
The Commissioner wants to hear from older people about their experiences in a range of areas, such as making appointments, surgeries understanding patients’ needs and providing appropriate support, and whether people feel listened to and respected. She also wants to hear about wider issues such as the availability of services such as translation, and access to surgeries via public transport.
The Commissioner is working with organisations and local partners Wales to reach out to older people throughout Wales and distribute a questionnaire to enable people to make their voices heard, and is also keen to hear about people’s positive experiences and the things that they find helpful when visiting their GP. People can also share their experiences via the phone, online or by writing to the Commissioner’s office.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said:
“GP services play a crucial role in supporting our health and well-being, particularly as we get older, and are often the gateway to other essential health services. That’s why it’s so important that older people can access GP services, and that the services themselves meet everyone’s needs.
“Older people throughout Wales often share issues and concerns about GP services with me, and since the pandemic new barriers seem to have emerged, such as the shift to doing far more online.
“That’s why I am inviting older people to get in touch with my office to share their experiences, so I can learn more about the kinds of issues and challenges people are facing and identify where action is needed. I’m also keen to hear about what’s working well, so this good practice that makes a positive difference can be adopted more widely.
“I want to ensure that older people’s voices are heard and are used to shape policy and practice throughout Wales.”
The Commissioner will examine her findings throughout the autumn, and publish a report in the New Year, highlighting what older people have shared with her and setting out recommendations to help ensure GP practices in Wales are accessible to older people.
In addition, the Commissioner will be publishing an information guide to help older people better understand what they should expect from GP services, with a particular focus on people’s rights in terms of issues such as accessibility.
The Commissioner added:
“Alongside my report and recommendations for action, which are due to be published in the New Year, I also want to ensure that older people understand their rights when accessing GP services, so individuals feel empowered to challenge poor practice or raise concerns.
“That’s why I’m developing a helpful guide which will be distributed to older people throughout Wales to provide the information they need, and details of where to get help and support if they’re struggling to access the GP services they need.”Complete the Commissioner's Questionnaire