Monthly Archives: November 2021

Telephone Lines

Unfortunately patients are experiencing long wait times when telephoning. We are currently experiencing unprecedented call volumes and despite the addition of lines and staff we are unable to answer all calls.

Mondays are particularly difficult. We have 6 lines, when these are all in use there should be an engaged tone. Calls can take between 3-15 minutes and can be very complex in nature with critical information being communicated, so as you can see the lines will be busy despite multiple call attempts.

We are making calls out as well as receiving calls. Our system will give you a call position but only under certain circumstances and we are currently unable to purchase a cloud based system that will manage unlimited calls with call queuing due to our rural locality. We have explored this but the infrastructure is not available. As soon as this changes we plan to implement such a system as we understand that callers prefer to be informed of their position in a queue. You may have seen that the NHS plans to overhaul telephony with a view to helping primary care with this issue.

We try to manage this volume by asking patients calling about less urgent issues to call us between certain hours, leaving the lines available for those with medically urgent clinical issues.

If you were calling to book an appointment it may be worth considering Doctorlink on our website which is a symptom checker and triage tool, this asks health related questions and then sign posts the patient to an appropriate health service, it also sends a report to you the patient and us at the practice recommending a timeframe within which to be seen and by whom. This system is used nationally as well as locally in an effort to manage current demands.

The telephones are particularly busy with peak times between 8-9 and 1-2, however outside of these times can still be problematic. Whilst weunderstand that sometime a telephone call is the most appropriate communication method, other queries can be emailed to us on reception.hillcrest@nhs.net.

Thank you for your patience we understand that this is extremely frustrating for patients and outside agencies but please be assured that the staff here are answering and managing over 500 calls every day.