THE NHS in Sussex has blamed high demand after the Covid-19 pandemic for a drop in satisfaction with GP services.

An annual poll found that only three in four patients (77.8 per cent) described their GP experience as good, down from 84.8 per cent last year and its lowest level since 2018, the first date comparable data is available.

A spokeswoman for NHS Sussex said while the figures were above the national average and for Sussex as a region, the health service understands some people do not always have a positive experience and there are “improvements to be made”.

She said: “General practice, like many NHS services, is experiencing high demand as a result of the pandemic and working hard to manage an increase in requests for appointments, address people waiting for routine care such as yearly health checks that were delayed, and continue to prepare for and deliver vaccination programmes, such as flu and Covid-19.

“In Sussex, measures are being taken to address the demand on primary care services, which includes work on improving access to appointments and expanding the general practice workforce.”

The spokeswoman said the health service in Sussex is investing in the use of digital technologies to improve access by “implementing innovative services for patients to access online assistance and e-consultations, setting up roving GP services to provide support at home, and investing in GP premises”.

“All of these measures aim to further improve patient experience and we will keep listening to, and working with, people and our communities to make sure we are taking action where necessary,” she said.

The poll found almost one in five (19.4 per cent) of respondents in Brighton and Hove had avoided booking a necessary GP appointment because they did not want to burden the NHS, with almost one in ten (9.6 per cent) wanting to avoid the risk of catching Covid-19.

More than 700,000 people across England responded to the nationwide poll between January and April, with GP satisfaction down nationally to just 72 per cent.