- GPs to receive £240m for new phone systems to reduce waiting times when calling
- Clinics will not be allowed to say “call later” and must offer help the same day.
GP surgeries will receive £240m for new phone systems so patients no longer face ringtones and long waits as they scramble for 8am appointments.
Receptionists will also receive more training to direct callers to the doctor who best suits their needs.
Practices will not be able to tell patients to call back later and will have to offer a same-day appointment or assessment or refer them to a pharmacist or A&E.
This comes after surveys revealed that public satisfaction with GPs has hit an all-time low, with patients particularly frustrated by difficulties in accessing a doctor and communicating by phone.
An average-sized practice of 10,000 patients typically receives more than 100 calls in the first hour each Monday, but many patients could be seen by someone other than a family doctor.
(File photo) GP surgeries will receive £240m for new phone systems so patients no longer face ringtones and long waits during the scramble for 8am appointments
(File photo) Receptionists will also receive more training to direct callers to the doctor who best suits their needs.
Digital telephone systems will add callers to a queue, inform them of their position and allow them to request a call back.
Online tools will offer patients an alternative way to find the right professional for their needs, such as a pharmacist, and allow them to book appointments. The changes will feature in the Government’s GP access recovery plan published tomorrow.
He also hoped to create a larger role for pharmacists to help relieve pressure on doctors.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “We are already making real progress with 10 per cent more GP appointments each month compared to before the pandemic.” I want to make sure people get the right support when contacting their GP and end the fight for 8am appointments
“To achieve this, we are improving technology and reducing bureaucracy, increasing staffing and changing the way primary care services are delivered.”
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said: “I want to make sure people get the right support when they contact their general practice.”
The Government will fund 6,500 training places for so-called care navigators (one member of staff per practice) who are expected to pass on training to their colleagues.
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, of the Royal College of GPs, welcomed the investment but said more must be done.
“We await further details on the full access recovery plan, but ultimately how best to improve access to care for GPs and address the intense workload and work pressures that teams work under of GPs is to increase the number of fully trained, full-time equivalent GPs through effective recruitment and retention schemes,” he added.
Labor health spokesman Wes Streeting said: ‘The reason people can’t get a GP appointment is because the Conservatives have cut 2,000 GPs. Better keep the music going won’t change that.
“Nothing in this announcement will train more doctors, allow patients to choose a face-to-face appointment or bring back the family doctor so patients see the same GP every time.”