The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many of us use health and social care services. An increasing amount of information is online, and patients are often asked to check their GP surgery's website before calling the practice.
At the beginning of the year, Healthwatch Bristol carried out an audit of GP websites in the local area. Our volunteers looked at nine surgeries, and considered the following questions:
- Can patients find out how to access the service they need?
- Do they know who to contact out of hours?
- What if they have particular support needs?
- Is information up-to-date, accessible and easy to understand?
Some GP surgeries had options for translating their website into different languages, many included links to information about different conditions and health topics, and several included links to, or details of, how to contact other support agencies across a range of issues that impact healthcare.
However, of the websites checked by our volunteers, only one had accessibility information for a disabled person and seven did not have information in easy read formats.
Four of the websites did not have a translate function to change the text into different languages. Eight did not include information on booking an interpreter.
Healthwatch exists so everyone can have access to better health and social care - but to achieve this, patients need to have accessible and clear information about who to contact, and when.
At the end of our review, we created a website review tool. This will be sent out to practice managers across the Bristol area. We hope it will help GP surgeries improve their communication with patients, and ensure you can get the right information, when you need it.
You can download our review, alongside the website review tool, below.
If you'd like to share your own feedback or experiences of using your local GP surgery, click the pink 'Talk to us' button below.