Speaking out about Non-Urgent Care

Find out how we helped people to have their views heard about GP services, and what they do if they require non-urgent care but can’t get an appointment.


Healthwatch England recently commissioned YouGov to find out why patients go to Accident and Emergency Departments (A&E) instead of their local GP, and what can be done to ease the pressure on this vital frontline service.

The survey revealed that “18 per cent of people admit to having knowingly used A&E for a non-emergency at some point in their lives, 1 in 4 respondents said it is likely they would resort to using A&E in the future if they were unable to get a GP appointment in a reasonable timeframe, with 1 in 3 stating that they would do so if the non-emergency situation occurred outside of GP opening hours”.

What we did

Working on-line and through our delivery partners, we ran a survey which received over 500 responses.  The feedback revealed that many people find it difficult to get GP appointments in Devon and many are unsure what services are available to them locally if non urgent treatment is required.

Our Findings

Key findings were that:

  • More than three quarters of those surveyed find it easy to make an appointment with their GP
  • For those who find it difficult, the main concerns were:
  • Rigid appointment booking systems
  • Not being able to get through to make an appointment on the telephone
  • Not being able to see the GP of choice on the day
  • Long waiting times to see a named GP
  • Staff attitude and communication, particularly within Reception
  • If people are not able to make an appointment with their GP, the majority of those surveyed would visit their local pharmacy, slightly more than a fifth would call 111 and a further fifth would ‘do nothing’
  • A quarter of those surveyed were unsure about the range of services available to them if they required non urgent medical treatment or advice
  • Walk-In Centres were praised by many people as being a useful resource, with several suggesting that there should be more places where people can walk in and be seen by a medical professional without the need to book an appointment
  • Responses suggest that more information needs to be made available to the public to explain the 111 Service
  • Many people were unsure what ‘non-urgent’ means and those surveyed suggested that people need more information and advice to help people understand when it is necessary to go to A&E, or when another service would be more appropriate.
Non Urgent Care Report

Read our 4 page summary


As part of this work we have utilised our legal powers under Section 221 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.  Recommendations have been made to relevant providers and commissioners and we are delighted to have received responses from them all.

Check out our Report Summary or read our full Non Urgent Care Report and recommendations.

Read the responses from NEW Devon CCG, NHS England and South Devon and Torbay CCG.

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