The nature of how GPs are expected to allocate their appointments has resulted in an 8am feeding frenzy every morning, where patients all across the country ring their GP surgery, all at the same time, to try and get an appointment.
Some days we will get 200 calls in a 30 minute period, and many of you have spoken about dialling 30, 40, 50 times to try and get through to us. It also doesn’t help that our telephony system will only hold 15 queuing callers, and when it’s full, it directs you to AskMyGP, which has been turned off recently.
This is stressful for patients and it doesn’t work for GPs either. Frankly you deserve better. As we move through the rest of 2023, we have a number of initiatives planned to ease this 8am rush, and also to extend our AskMyGP opening hours, and the range of things you can do via AskMyGP.
As I’m sure you’ll understand, this all takes a lot of planning and testing to make sure we end up with something better and something that works. We expect all our changes to be in place by the end of the year.
However, some changes can go live sooner, and one of the things we have done is review our working hours on the reception team. We have 9 people working during the day (assuming no holidays) and this used to be split evenly between an 8am shift and a 10am start.
From Monday 4th September, the shifts will no longer be split equally, and most days we will now have 5 people answering the phones at 8am, with an additional person split between phones and reception. The late shift will also start much earlier, giving us further phone capacity from 8.30am.
Whilst it won’t cure the problem, it will help you get answered quicker. Our average call length (once you reach one of our reception team) is 2 minutes, so once you’re queuing, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 10 minutes.
Things We Can’t Do At the Moment and Why
· Amend the queuing limit – it is stuck at 15, although we can adjust this once our new telephony solution is implemented
· Open AskMyGP every morning – unfortunately we are running at reduced clinical capacity at the moment, something else we are actively addressing
I hope you notice a difference from Monday. You are always welcome to DM us via our Facebook page and provide your feedback, good or bad. You can also comment on this post.
We will be very open with you as we move through the next few months. Please believe us when we say we are committed to delivering an excellent service to our patients. We know we are not meeting everybody’s expectations at the moment, and we are working hard to make sure this changes quickly.