"…just 35 per cent of patients get to see their preferred GP on most occasions, and 44 per cent of patients don't even have a preferred GP."
Ian Austin MP, The Independent, 6 April 2014
In an article yesterday calling for greater patient choice over GPs, Labour MP Ian Austin said 35% of patients are able to see their preferred doctor most of the time.
The figure doesn't mean the other two thirds are unable to see a preferred doctor - the survey it comes from shows that most of them have no preference. And the number doesn't give us an exact measure of how often patients are able to see their chosen doctor.
63% of patients with a preferred doctor can often see them
The figures come from a survey of 971,000 patients in England, which found 56% had a preferred GP. The proportion who said they didn't prefer to see a particular GP was 42%, with another 2% who said there was usually only one GP available in their surgery anyway.
Of the patients with a preference, 63% were able to make an appointment with their first choice either "always or almost always" or "a lot of the time". This group made up 35% of all patients.
The figures don't tell us whether these patients are able to see their preferred GP "on most occasions" because the survey responses don't quantify this. An individual who is able to see their doctor three quarters of the time might judge this to be "a lot of the time" or to be only "some of the time" depending on their expectations.