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What does the GP Patient Survey tell us about carers?

06 August 2019 by Rachael Graham

Rachael Graham

Policy and Public Affairs Officer

Carers provide invaluable support to those they care for but this can often come at huge personal cost. Carers often tell us about the consequences of caring on their own health and well-being. For example, Carers Week research from 2018 found that 6 out of 10 people (61%) said their physical health has worsened as a result of caring, while 7 out of 10 (72%) said they have suffered mental ill health.

This information was echoed by the 2019 GP Patient Survey which found that carers were more likely to report having health problems compared with the general public, as was also found in the 2018 survey. Carers are more likely to report having a long term condition, disability or illness – 63% of carers compared to 51% of non-carers. In addition 63% of carers reported that their condition led to trouble with day to day activity compared to 58% of non-carers.

This difference was even higher for carers who care for more than 50 hours a week, 71% of whom reported having a long term condition, disability or illness.

GPs are a key service within the community that many carers will interact with on a regular basis, whether for themselves or the person they care for. Carers responding to the GP Patient Survey were asked about their recent experiences with their own GP practice.

Overall 8 in 10 carers (81%) had a very or fairly good experience at their GP practice, for all patients this was 83% who had a very or fairly good experience. 11% of carers reported a neither good nor poor experience and 8% reported a poor experience.

For some carers, the services offered by their GP are difficult for them to access. Around 6% of carers declined the appointment offered to them by their GP. The most common reason for declining an appointment for both carers and non-carers was that there weren’t any appointments for the time or day they wanted. 26% carers didn’t see or speak to anyone after declining an appointment. 24% decided to contact the practice at another time, 14% got an appointment at a different time and 12% found information online.

GPs can play a key role in helping carers identify themselves and get the support they need. This has been recognised by the NHS England Commitment to Carers Team who released Quality Markers which provide a framework for improving how general practice can better identify and support carers of all ages.

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