Frequently asked questions

Why is this survey happening?

The GP Patient Survey has been designed to give patients the opportunity to feed back about their experiences of their GP practice. The survey asks about your experiences of your local GP practice and other local NHS services, and includes questions about your general health. The survey includes questions about a range of issues, such as how easy or hard it is to make an appointment at your practice, satisfaction with opening hours, the quality of care received from your GP and practice nurses, amongst other things.

The answers we get help the NHS to improve local health services for people like you and your family. Over the last twelve months GP practices have had to make some changes in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, it is more important than ever that we hear about your experiences of your local NHS service even if you haven’t visited your GP practice in a long time, or you have filled in a questionnaire before.

Who is this actually from?

Ipsos MORI, an independent research agency, administers the survey for NHS England.

What is NHS England?

NHS England leads the National Health Service (NHS) in England. It is an arm's length body of the Department of Health and Social Care with the aim of improving health for people in England. It is responsible for the commissioning of health care services in England, including the contracts for GPs, pharmacists, and dentists. NHS England has asked Ipsos MORI to run the GP Patient Survey. You can find out more about NHS England on the NHS website.

When is the survey sent out?

The survey is sent out every year in January.

This is the fifteenth year that the survey has been carried out in England. Between March 2016 and July 2011 the survey happened twice a year, before that it was sent out on a quarterly basis (April 2009-March 2011) and every year (January 2007-March 2009).

Why is this survey happening again?

The GP Patient Survey continues to allow patients to feed back their experience of the care and services they receive from their GP practice. We run the GP Patient Survey yearly in order to track change over time and monitor the quality of services. The survey will help the NHS to improve GP practices and other local NHS services so they better meet your needs.

Even if you completed a questionnaire last year it is important to hear about your more recent experiences.

Who designed the questionnaire?

The questionnaire was originally developed with the University of Exeter and University of Cambridge but is constantly looked at to ensure it remains up-to-date. This year the questionnaire has been redeveloped by Ipsos MORI and NHS England, to reflect changes in the delivery of primary care services as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The last significant redesign was in 2018, in response to changes to primary care services listed in the GP Forward View.

Due to changes in the delivery of primary care services, it was crucial that the GPPS questions were reviewed to ensure we ask about the right things in the right way. As a result, ahead of this year's survey the questionnaire has been thoroughly reviewed, involving consultation with stakeholders specialising in primary care. This led to significant revisions to the questionnaire, all of which have been tested with patients using cognitive interviews to ensure that it continues to reflect experience, and is also easy to read and understand.

What protected characteristics and demographic information does the GP Patient Survey collect?

The GP Patient Survey collects voluntary self-reported information covering seven of the nine protected characteristics:

  • - Age
  • - Disability
  • - Gender reassignment
  • - Race
  • - Religion or belief
  • - Sex
  • - Sexual orientation

In addition, it also collects information on the following:

  • - Whether the person who responded has a long-term condition or conditions
  • - Working status of the person who responded
  • - Whether the person who responded is a carer
  • - Whether the person who responded is deaf and uses sign language
  • - Whether the person who responded is a parent or legal guardian
  • - Smoking habits of the person who responded

How did you decide upon the question wording to measure the protected characteristics?

Questions measuring Race/Ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation are based upon the questions designed for the Census for England and Wales.

Age

The GP Patient Survey measures age based upon age bands. This approach is taken rather than asking for respondents to write in their date of birth. This is less likely to result in inputting errors or difficulty in reading numbers correctly. Also, it allows for breakdown of data into age groups whilst still protecting the anonymity of the person who responded.

Disability

In the Equality Act a disability is defined as a physical or a mental condition which has a big and long-term impact on your ability to do normal day to day activities. During the re-development of the 2018 survey extensive engagement was done and the question covering long-term conditions was changed. The question now closely reflects this definition ‘Do you have any long-term physical or mental health conditions, disabilities or illnesses? By long term, we mean anything lasting or expected to last for 12 months or more. Please include issues related to old age.’

A follow up question was included asking the following: ‘Which, if any, of the following long-term conditions do you have?’ providing further information about the people who responded with self-reported conditions.

In order to understand if there is any effect on day to day activities, as per the definition of disability, people who responded were asked ‘Do any of these conditions reduce your ability to carry out your day-to-day activities?’

Gender reassignment

The Equality Act states that a person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person's sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex.

The protected characteristic gender reassignment is being measured in the 2021 survey by asking the following questions:

Which of the following best describes you?
Female
Male
Non-binary
Prefer to self-describe
Prefer not to say

Is your gender identity the same as the sex you were registered at birth?
Yes
No
Prefer not to say

The question wording is based on questions used in other settings and has been looked at and changed based upon a huge amount of research, stakeholder engagement and data analysis. The questions will be reviewed after the 2021 survey has happened.

Sex

In the Equality Act sex is a reference to a man (male) or to a woman (female). The protected characteristic of sex is being measured in the 2021 survey as part of the following question:

Which of the following best describes you?
Female
Male
Non-binary
Prefer to self-describe
Prefer not to say

The question wording is based on questions used in other settings and has been reviewed and changed based upon a huge amount of research, stakeholder engagement and data analysis. The questions will be reviewed after the 2021 survey has happened.

Why do you not ask about the protected characteristics marriage and civil partnership and pregnancy and maternity?

We do not currently include a question covering the characteristic pregnancy and maternity due to the challenges of measuring this accurately and consistently. We are reviewing this and looking into how it could be measured ahead of the 2022 survey.

Marriage and civil partnership is currently not measured. Before now we had not been aware of any inequalities of experience in relation to this that would not be measured by other protected characteristics. However, we are planning to look at this again ahead of the 2022 survey.

What is Ipsos MORI?

Ipsos MORI is a registered and independent survey organisation that strictly adheres to the Market Research Society's ethical code of conduct. Ipsos UK and MORI, who you may have heard of separately, merged in October 2005 to form the second largest research organisation in the UK.

For more information about Ipsos MORI please go to www.ipsos-mori.com