DORSET patients have the worst contact with GP practices in England, according to a major new national poll. 

The NHS England and Office for National Statistics survey is based on responses from a sample of nearly 90,000 adults aged 16 and over in England. 

It showed 15.8 per cent of people registered to a GP practice in the NHS Dorset Integrated Care Board were unable to contact their doctor, receptionist or another clinician at their registered practice the last time they tried. 

This was the highest in the country, meaning patients in Dorset have the worst contact with their GP practice. 

A further 12.3 per cent were able to get in touch with their GP, but it took at least two days. Nationally, 11.9 per cent of patients had to wait at least two days to contact their practice. 

Meanwhile, patients who successfully contacted their GP practice were asked what their next step was. Some 2.1 per cent were told to call back another day, while 20.8 per cent were given an appointment at least two weeks after they made contact. 

NHS Dorset's spokesman acknowledged that improvements are needed – but said the problems are caused by recruitment issues and an increase in demand. 

He said: “Despite general practice being under intense pressure from increased demand and ongoing recruitment difficulties it is committed to providing timely and quality healthcare for registered patients.  

“We do however acknowledge that improvements are needed in some areas and have been working to improve access, for example moving to new cloud-based phone systems and continuing our support for web-based consultation tools. 

“There are many ways to get in touch with your practice including telephone, online forms or in person and often you may not need to see a GP as there are many other health professionals who can help. Further details are available via individual practice websites. 

“If urgent care is required outside of practice opening hours, 111 is available online or by phone.” 

The survey also showed 63.7 per cent of patients across the country said their experience of their GP practice was "good or very good". 

In Dorset, this fell to 62.4 per cent, while a further 15.3 per cent said their experience was poor or very poor. 

Meanwhile, 10.4 per cent of patients said they were waiting for at least 12 months for a hospital appointment or test, or to begin medical treatment with the NHS. 

NHS England's spokesman said: "Work is ongoing to reduce the longest waits for patients but despite pressures and industrial action, hardworking NHS staff ensured the Covid backlog has fallen for four months in a row and 18-month waits are down almost 90 per cent on their peak. 

"In terms of GP care, almost two-thirds of people are happy with their experience, and millions more are being given appointments compared to before the pandemic."