Why does it take so long to get through to the practice on the telephone?
Some of our patients are waiting longer than we would like to get through to us, and we understand that this can cause them frustration. The impact of COVID-19 has had a huge effect on the practice workload which impacts both our clinical and non-clinical teams. Hospital demands also have an impact on our workload in general practice. The pandemic has meant that we have had to change the way we triage patients with infectious diseases, and this adds more time on the length of the calls taken which is necessary to ensure patient safety.
We have unfortunately experienced immense technical issues with the new telephone system that we had installed earlier this year which has not helped matters.
We appreciate that the phone lines been so busy is frustrating, so we want you to understand a little more about what you, our patients can do to help us to alleviate the long waits and demands on us.
We have looked at our telephone statistics over the last 12 months and we have some tips on the way you contact us and other organisations like us.
- Our busiest times are between 8-11am, this is consistent across all days. If you are looking for an appointment on the same day (a matter that cannot be dealt with by a local pharmacy or should be seen at A&E) it is best to ring as early as you can. If your matter is not urgent please ring later in the day
- Our Reception team have had training from our clinicians and are able to work with you to find the right support for your issue. This will mean that when you get through to us they will ask additional questions. This is to help you and we would ask that you are as honest as possible with them
- Our average wait time is 9 minutes 37 seconds, this is for calls from patients. We try and spend time with everyone to ensure they get the quality of service that we would like to receive when we phone our practices, again this means that it make take us longer to get to you.
- We receive on average 190 of calls for repeat prescriptions each day. This blocks the phone lines for patients wanting to make an appointment. We will be suspending the repeat prescription line from 1st March 2022. This will mean that you will need access to online repeat prescription requests. You can also complete the right-hand slip on your prescription and post in the script box at the practice. Some patients will be the exception to the rule due to their circumstances and this will be agreed with them with their GP. Ordering online is much more convenient as you don’t need to wait for the practice to open and you can make your request any time on any day. It also makes it safer when ordering prescriptions. Medications are complicated and it is not safe to request it verbally. By freeing up the lines this way it will mean that we can get to your call sooner.
- We do appreciate the difficulties patients have had getting through but this does not excuse the verbal abuse our staff have received from a small number of patients. All staff here would appreciate being treated with the respect we all deserve. Please note any abuse will be dealt with through a zero tolerance approach.
- Many things that you ring us for can be done on the NHS App which can be accessed at https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-app/ . You can look at your records, order medication and find out your test results. This saves you and us time.
- We also offer e-consults where you can enter your symptoms and it will advise you on the action to take. Where necessary the GP or a member of our reception team will get back to you
- If you’re unsure whether its us or the hospital or somewhere else that you need to contact, you can ring 111 or use the symptom check online https://111nhs.uk/
- Our call volumes have increased over the last year by 20%. We are looking at our staffing levels and the way we answer your calls and with your help doing some of the above steps we hope to be able to improve things for our patients and our staff.
- We need your help to help us so that we can continue to provide the best service when you need us.
This situation is sadly not just affecting Slaithwaite Health Centre, our colleagues across the country are having the same issues with demand and staffing levels.
Please help us, so that we can help you.
Drs Shamsee, Ward & Wilding
Slaithwaite Health Centre