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Healthwatch mystery shoppers investigate support available for autistic patients from Islington GPs

03/01/2018

Last November, Healthwatch mystery shoppers called GP practices posing as newly arrived Islington residents looking for a practice which could accommodate their child’s needs. They said that their child had a diagnosis of autism. We spoke to staff at 33 out of 35 practices. We called outside of the busiest periods and called back another time if reception staff were too busy to speak to us. This week we are publishing our findings:
  • Most practices were very happy to give patients with autism longer appointments.
  • Most practices were happy to offer a telephone appointment. Only 3 offered a home visit.
  • Only 5 practices said they had staff with specialist training in autism.
  • About half the practices said they could offer appointments at quiet times of day.
  • There was a lack of quiet spaces for patients with autism to wait. Only 2 practices had a dedicated quiet space.
  • About half the practices said they were happy for patients with autism to email their GP prior to their appointment, so they could agree in advance the points to be discussed.

'Could an autistic patient email their GP before their appointment with a list of points they want to cover? We've not done that before, but I don't see why not if it's easier for the patient and the GP.'
City Road Medical Centre

The full report is included below. Healthwatch hopes that all GP practices can learn from those already doing a good job of being flexible; making adjustments to their procedures to better meet the needs of their autistic patients.

Image copyright CHANGE, www.changepeople.org

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Download the full report (971 KB)

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