Open-access versus bookable appointment systems: survey of patients attending appointments with general practitioners

Br J Gen Pract. 2004 May;54(502):367-9.


Access to consultations with general practitioners (GPs) is an important health policy issue. One method of providing 24-hour access is through the provision of open-access surgeries. The study aimed to compare patients' perceptions of 'bookable' and 'non-bookable' (open-access) appointments. A cross-sectional survey design was used and recruited 834 patients in a general practice. There were statistically significant differences between the bookable and the non-bookable appointments for the questions on 'choice of doctor', 'whether able to see the doctor in the time they needed to', and 'convenience of the appointment'. More patients with bookable appointments saw their doctor of choice. One-fifth of patients, equally distributed between the two groups, did not feel that they were seen within the time they needed to be. Almost three-fifths of patients, equally distributed between the two groups, reported that it was either 'easy' or 'very easy' to make the appointment. Greater convenience was reported by those with bookable appointments. These findings support the hypothesis that within a single practice, there is scope for a combined appointment system in which patients can self-select, with equal satisfaction, the type of appointment that they prefer, dependent upon their own preferences or needs at the time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • England
  • Family Practice / organization & administration*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Health Services Accessibility / standards
  • Humans
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Time Factors