The poll of more than 900,000 patients found that, in the last two years, the proportion saying it was not easy to get through on the phone rose from 18% to 24%. When they did get through 11% were unable to get an appointment, the Ipsos MORI poll for NHS England showed. But overall 75% rated the experience of making an appointment as good.
When they did get to see a doctor, or for some a practice nurse, 86% said their overall experience was good.
It comes after the British Medical Association (BMA) warned last week that patients would face longer waits to see a GP because of a shortage of doctors and squeeze on funding. This survey does not measure that, but it does show that access is becoming a problem for a growing minority. As well as 11% not being able to make an appointment, 8% of those getting an appointment felt it was at an inconvenient time.
GPs argue the problem is caused by rising demands not being matched with by a corresponding rise in resources. The number of annual consultations carried out by general practice has risen by 40 million since 2008, hitting 340 million at the last count. Meanwhile, figures from the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) show the amount spent on practices in real terms has fallen over the last three years.
Source: BBC News