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24-hour automated appointment booking system 'saving GP time'

A 24-hour, automated telephone appointment-booking system is ‘saving time’ for practices in south-west England.

The pilot, which allows patients to book, amend and cancel appointments round the clock, has already saved time have reducing the number of no-show patients just one month into its existence, commissoners said.

The ‘Patient Partner’ system, funded by NHS England and NHS Bath and North East Somerset CCG for a two-year trial, has been installed in 25 out of 27 GP practices in the region, and is intended to save time for practices as well as improving patient access.

A CCG spokesperson told Pulse that it has ‘already seen hours of practice time saved including from people using the system to cancel appointments and therefore avoiding no-shows’.

Project director Amanda Simpson said: ‘We hope that by making it easier for patients to make an appointment with their practice, it will also be easier for them to access services.

’We can also reduce those occasions when patients don’t come for their appointment and don’t cancel their appointment because of difficulties getting through to make the cancellation, which costs practices time, money and resources.’

Oliver Walton, practice manager at Batheaston Medical Centre in Bath said: ’The telephone system gives all our patients the option of managing their appointments when they want or need to.

‘For us, it helps to reduce the numbers of calls coming through and releases our time to spend with patients – we’ve already had a great response to the new system.’

 

Readers' comments (4)

  • Problem isn't booking appointments, it's having appointment to book.

    In a 'free at the point of use according to need' system the priority to is control access according to need, not provide tech to allow those most able to use all the appointments as per inverse care law.

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  • yap, that's what we really need. Make access to GP even easier. One couldn't make it up.

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  • A 24 hr automated booking system would be great for us as a practice. It would generally be used by younger patients who usually have self limiting conditions which would make consultation times much shorter. It wouldn't be so good for our vast army of elderly patients with their multiple comorbidities. It' s a question of priorities- wants v needs.
    We have an old fashioned attitude of putting patients with the greatest clinical need first. That won' t sit well in the future of corporate federations etc.

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  • I would be wary of anything that freed up receptionist time. When i am on call I just about keep up with 'queries' from patients. The patients seeking an opinion are often the same number as in the surgery I am doing. The ten minute appointment shrinks even further as I try and answer queries in between.

    Should even more patients get through on the telephone I would be sunk.

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