This site is intended for health professionals only

Advanced access GP appointment systems ‘no longer acceptable in 2010’, BMA warns

By Lilian Anekwe

GP leaders have called on the profession to stamp out the ‘unacceptable' practice of reserving same-day appointments and making patients call in the morning for appointments that day.

The previous Government introduced the 'advanced access' programme to provide patient-sensitive booking systems with a balance of both quick appointments and pre-bookable appointments.

But because of the pressure to meet the requirements practices would often only make same-day appointments available on that same morning, leading to frequent complaints and frustration for patients.

Now GP leaders in Wales have written to every practice in the country asking them to adapt their appointment systems to stop reserving same-day appointments and move away from the ‘legacy of the discredited advanced access programme'.

David Bailey, lead negotiator and chair of GPC Wales, said: ‘One of the principal complaints from both the public and politicians is the continued policy in some GP practices to open appointments on the day and insist that patients phone in the morning to book and then tell them to phone back the following day once all the appointments are gone.'

‘This appears to be a legacy of the discredited advanced access programme and can lead to patients having to phone repeatedly to obtain a single appointment. This is no longer acceptable practice in 2010.'

He told Pulse: ‘We get an awful lot of noise from politicians and this is one of the biggest issues that patients complain about.'

‘We are not telling practices how to run their appointment booking systems, but it's clear that although advanced access is yesterday's idea, the mindset still exists.'

‘It's not feasible for patients to be able to call up and demand an appointment with a GP of their choice on that same day, but if people call up for an appointment you should try to accommodate them in some way.'

Dr David Bailey, chair of GPC Wales Dr David Bailey, chair of GPC Wales More on...

In Practice: How to give your practice an access overhaul