Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics 304: Patients’ experience of their GP practice in the COVID-19 pandemic

Paul Allanson (Lead / Corresponding author), Paul Logan

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This paper explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on patients’ experiences of general practice in England using multicategory response data from the 2020 and 2021 GP Patient Surveys, where the former was conducted in the run up to the first UK national lockdown at the end of March 2020 and the latter a year later. It offers a novel analysis of changes in patients’ experience that is both sensitive to changes in the distribution of patients across the full set of response categories, not just in the proportion meeting some binary quality threshold, and provides a breakdown of changes in individual practice-level patient experience profiles into structural and exchange mobility components. Our results show a 4.47 percentage point higher chance that a randomly chosen patient from anywhere in England in 2021 would have reported a better rather than worse overall experience of their GP practice than one similarly chosen in 2020. Moreover, patients in 2021 were likely to rate their GP more highly if their last appointment was conducted face-to-face at their own practice rather than remotely over the phone or online. Practice-level changes exhibit reversion towards the median quality for England as a whole, likely reflecting the influence of transitory shocks to patient experience, with the average change in patients’ rating of their own practice found to be slightly higher than the nationwide improvement due to the pattern of idiosyncratic changes. We conclude that patients’ more positive rating of GP services in 2021 was not the result of the prescribed switch towards the greater use of remote consultations, thereby contributing to the current debate on whether this change should be reversed once the pandemic is over, but of a change in reporting behaviour stemming from a more supportive attitude towards the NHS.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Dundee
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Publication series

NameDundee Discussion Papers in Economics
PublisherUniversity of Dundee
ISSN (Print)1473-236X


  • Patient-reported experience measures
  • primary care services
  • mobility analysis
  • COVID-19
  • England


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