Patients in Richmond want better access to GPs and complain that receptionists sometimes get in the way of appointments, according to a health watchdog.

The feedback is the result of a Richmond Healthwatch public forum in January and showed patients in Richmond were dissatisfied both with booking an appointment and getting to see their GP.

Richmond patients said GPs needed better awareness of support for patients and receptionists were sometimes viewed as over-officious gatekeepers.

Chief officer at Healthwatch Richmond Mike Derry said feedback was important to make improvements to healthcare.

He said: “I’m delighted that we got buy-in from all the key organisations involved in GP care - including GPs. There’s a really positive aspect to this work.

“It’s not just about criticising GPs as overall satisfaction rates across Richmond borough are good.

“All of us want to help to succeed in making things better for patients on the specific issues highlighted in the report, where some practices had very poor satisfaction rates.”

GP surgeries undertake 90 per cent of NHS activity for 7.5 per cent of the cost and more than 320m patients per year nationally.

Mr Derry said: “We’re now looking forward to working with GPs, key decision makers and the local community to use these research findings to improve the care local people receive in ways that will make the biggest difference to the patient’s experience.”

Suggested improvements included greater flexibility of appointment times, physical access to surgeries for all and more collaborative working between GP surgeries.

Healthwatch Richmond is setting up a working group of GPS to improve general practices in the area.

For more information, email or call 020 3178 8784.