CHESHIRE people are being asked for their views on how to improve family doctor services as part of a national survey.

A questionnaire and a covering letter are currently being sent to 5.7m people registered with GP practices throughout England.

This is the third year the Department of Health has run the survey, which focuses on patients’ experiences.

The NHS says the survey results will drive changes to family doctor services and lead to rewards for GPs who provide fast, convenient services.

The annual survey now includes more questions to find out if GP practices are getting the basics right – whether patients find receptionists helpful, have the option of telephone consultations, feel their problem is understood and how they rate the overall care they receive.

Patients are also asked to rate local out-of-hours care to ensure health care is easily accessible when patients need it. Patients’ answers will continue to set the level of payments made to their GP practice for delivering access to GP appointments in two working days and for booking appointments in advance.

Western Cheshire Primary Care Trust says it was in response to patients’ calls for quick access to GP appointments at convenient times in last year’s survey that all patients registered with a GP practice in western Cheshire can now book a routine appointment, up to two weeks in advance, in the evenings and on Saturday mornings at one of four locations in western Cheshire, making it easier for patients to get appointments at times that suit them.

Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said: “The national GP patient survey last year gave five million people a chance to have their say on improving access to their GP.

“The NHS listened and responded, and now over half of GP practices are making it easier for their patients to book appointments later in the evening, earlier in the morning or at the weekend.”

“This new survey, with wider questions, will ensure patients can have their say about the issues that matter most to them. Where patients identify areas for improvement, the local NHS will need to respond.

“I hope everyone who receives a questionnaire will take the time to fill it in and help to drive improvements in healthcare by giving us an accurate picture of patients’ experiences of local GP services.”

For further details on the GP survey, including a copy of the new survey questionnaire, visit: