GP appointments face major change with millions affected - how does this affect you?
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In efforts to end the ‘8am scramble’ GP receptionists will take a different approach to organising appointments for patients across the UK. The new plans are part of a wider strategy from ministers to tackle growing waiting times and logjams.
Patients will be told not to ring the GP back if an appointment is unavailable upon first attempt. Instead, receptionists will aim to inform patients the same day how they can organise an appointment within a fortnight at the latest.
Thousands of people call their GP every morning in hopes of securing an appointment the same day. Unfortunately, many are told to try again the following day which perpetuates a constant cycle of calls within the first hour of opening.
As part of the plans, Health Secretary Steve Barclay is announcing a £240 million cash injection into practices to replace old phones which make the call experience unsatisfactory. The phones will be upgraded to help maintain a patient's place in the queue or provide a call-back feature to secure an appointment ASAP.
Speaking of the plans, Mr Barclay said: “We are improving technology and reducing bureaucracy, increasing staffing and changing the way primary care services are provided, which are helping to deliver on the Government’s promise to cut waiting lists.”
NHS receptionists could also be rebranded as “care navigators” with instructions to find patients a suitable and preferred doctor. ‘Care navigators’ will be tasked with making sure a patient has an appointment arranged within two weeks.