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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.’