Why does it take so long to get through on the phone?


A message from Sara Froud - Managing Partner

Dear Patient

I know some of our patients are waiting longer than we would like to get through to us, and this is making them upset and angry with us when we do answer.

This is causing real problems for me as Practice Manager, we have lost good staff in the last month because of the abuse, bad language and anger that the team receive. I can't let this continue without doing something, so I want you to understand a little more about what our patients can do to help us to alleviate the long waits and the demands on us.I have looked at our telephone statistics over the last 12 months and I want to offer you some tips contacting us, and other organisations that might better help you.

  •  Our busiest times are 8 -11, this is consistent across all days. If you are looking for an appointment on the same day (for a matter that cannot be dealt with by a local pharmacy or should be seen at A&E) its best to ring as early as you can. If your matter is not urgent, please ring later in the day
  •  Our Patient Services 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. It may also mean that they direct you to another service not in the practice, for example the pharmacy or the minor eye service.
  •  Our phone system means that you can now queue and will only get the engaged tone if there are 25 calls already in the system, this also means that you may be 20th in the queue, rather than hearing the engaged tone for half an hour, we get through all calls as quickly as we can
  • The average call time for incoming calls is 8 minutes 10 seconds, this is for all 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 may take us longer to get to you 
  • It would really help us if you have a pen and paper (or electronic diary open) when you call us to make an appointment. Some of the calls that we receive are for patients checking their appointment time.
  • Your local pharmacy is the best place to go for any minor ailments, so for coughs and colds, rashes, vaginal thrush, headaches, back pain or things like viruses.  Please do not be upset if you are directed to them after you have waited on the phone to speak to us, it is not the fault of our reception team, its clinically the right place to go.
  •  We can’t help with Covid Vaccination passports. These should all be directed to 119.
  • If you have an injury that you think might need stitches, or an X-ray you need to go to A&E, we cannot stitch or request urgent X-rays, you are not wasting the hospitals time if you need them you must go there.
  • We are sorry we cannot take requests for prescriptions over the telephone. This isn’t because we are don’t want to help , its so that we know exactly what you want at what dose. Medication is complicated and its not safe to request it verbally.
  •  Many things that you ring us for can be done over the NHSApp which can be accessed via the NHS App Website. You can look at your records, order your medication and find out the result of your tests. This saves you and us time.
  •  You can also use our secure online form for non-urgent queries

Our doors are open and patients are coming in, but to keep everyone as safe as possible phoning the surgery is the best way.  

 Finally if you are unsure if it’s us or the hospital or somewhere else that you need to contact you can ring 111 or use the symptom checker on line NHS 111 Online

 Finally, our call volumes have increased over the last year by 30%. We are looking at our staffing levels and the way that we answer the calls, with your help doing some of the above steps we hope to be able to improve things for our patients and staff.  What we know is key is that we must ask  you to help us so that we can continue to give you the best service when you need us.  This story is sadly not just about Blackmore Vale Partnership, my colleagues across the country are having the same issues with demand and staffing levels, please do share this post to anyone you think might find the content useful

Published: Nov 18, 2021