By Gareth Iacobucci
Millions of patients are being prevented from accessing their GP because they are met with an engaged tone when telephoning their local surgery, new research has claimed.
The study by telephone service provider Network Europe Group (NEG) found that more than six million patients who phone a doctor between 8am and 10am are unable to get through every month.
The research also found that 93% of calls to surgeries that use normal landlines are unanswered because the number is busy, with 20 million calls resulting in an engaged tone every month.
Following the publication of its findings, the company has called on the Government to adopt a standardised system so people are able to make appointments or pick up test results when they need to.
Dean Rayment, managing director of NEG, said: ‘We were genuinely shocked by the findings of our research. We think the Government will be equally shocked.’
‘Given these findings, Network Europe Group proposes that the Government, as part of its programme of NHS reform, should include the quality of GPs’ telephone systems in the proposed new Quality Outcomes Framework for the NHS.’
‘Local doctors should remain free, however, to decide what particular arrangements work best for their own patients.’
Patients have reported trouble getting through to their GP on the phone