We are aware of the issues with the phone system
For some time now we have been experiencing an unprecedented high volume of calls coming in to the practice. We have taken the following steps to try and alleviate this such as:
- Introducing a generic email as a form of contact (monitored 8-6 Mon-Fri). This email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
- Promoting the use of online services to book and cancel appointments and order repeat prescriptions
- Updating the phone messages to fully inform patients of other means of contacting us and the best times to contact
- Investing in a new smart phone app – which we are just rolling out – to allow patients to quickly and easily book and cancel appointments and order repeat medications. We can also use this app to contact patients, send appointment reminders and communications (with consent)
- Investing in a Voice and Text messaging service, which incorporates all of the same features of the smart phone app but makes it accessible to patients who don’t have smart phones or even mobile phones.
We are also currently reviewing the phone system itself and making changes to the way it works in an attempt to ease the volume of calls coming through to the practice. This increased volume in phone calls is something which a lot of practices are experiencing and is as a result of higher demand for services in general. There has been no change to the number of phone lines coming in to the practice; and in fact the number of staff answering the phones has been increased to cope with this since the demand has spiked. The longer wait time is due to the volume of calls being received. It is difficult to gauge how long each call will take as each patient calls in with differing needs.
We understand the frustration when waiting on the phone lines and would like to assure you we are doing all we can to try and find ways of reducing this. We constantly evaluate the phone statistics and ensure there is adequate staffing. Unfortunately, like the majority of GP practices across the country we are tied in to lengthy contracts with our phone providers which have astronomical cancellation fees, therefore ‘locking us in’ for the contract term and meaning we have very little flexibility within the system. This severely limits our ability to make changes to the current systems as we can only do what the phone system is capable of. We have optimised it to the best of our ability to try and alleviate the waiting time.
We ask that you help us too by adhering to the instrucitons in the phone message and signing up for our email address, texting and voice service and Smart Phone App. Please help support us in this.