PATIENT satisfaction with GP services in the Black Country fell this year, new figures show.

The Royal College of GPs said the numbers – which show a continuing national decline in patient satisfaction – portray an "over-stretched and over-burdened" service.

A survey carried out between January and April this year reveals 62.6 per cent of patients in the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board said they had a very good or fairly good overall experience with their GP service – down from 63.8 per cent 2022.

It was also a significant fall from pre-pandemic levels when the 2019 report found 83.9 per cent were happy with their GP practice.

In 2023, 21 per cent of patients said they had a fairly poor or very poor experience, while 16.4 per cent patients said their experience was neither good nor bad.

Dr Michael Mulholland, honorary secretary of the RCGP, said the survey finding reflect an "over-stretched and over-burdened" service where staff are providing a positive experience for patients despite intense workloads and pressures.

"It is always difficult to hear when patients report unsatisfactory experiences or have difficulties accessing our services. Yet we do share their frustrations – GPs and our teams want to be able to deliver safe, timely and appropriate care for their patients," he said.

Dr Mulhollan added the service needs to see significant investment alongside curbing the rate of GP turnover and bolstering the workforce with young GPs.

"Our priority should be to alleviate the pressures on GP teams, allowing them to do what they do best - caring for their patients," he said.

Nationally, 71.3 per cent of patients said they had a good overall experience with their GP practice this year, a significant fall from 82.9 per cent pre-pandemic.

Meanwhile, the proportion of patients who reported a poor experience has risen from 6.5 per cent in 2019 to 14.2 per cent this year.

A spokesperson for NHS England said: "While GP teams are experiencing record demand for their services – delivering half a million more appointments every week compared to before the pandemic, this survey has found that the majority of patients have a good overall experience at their GP practice."

They added the NHS acknowledges more action is needed to improve access for patients.

It launched a new plan in May with more help available at local pharmacies, more options to self-refer and greater use of technology to end the 8am 'rush' for appointments.

At the Black Country GP practices In 2023:

59 per cent said it was not easy to get through to someone at their GP practice on the phone.

43.3 per cent said it was not easy to use their GP's website to look for information or access services

27.5 per cent said their practice's receptionists were not helpful.

33.9 per cent were dissatisfied with appointment times.