The Surgery Telephone System
First of all we would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by the limitations of our telephone system and we are aware that, from time to time, it is extremely difficult to get through on the telephone due to overwhelming demand from patients contacting the surgery at the same time.
Unfortunately, as a small business who are totally reliant on the NHS for funding of the medical services we provide to our patient community, it is unlikely that this problem can be resolved quickly unless we receive additional financial support to allow us to upgrade our telephone system and service to accommodate the significant increase in demand.
To explain briefly how our system works;
Our telephone system has 4 incoming lines (all on telephone number 523593) and we have 3 staff members working on the telephone switch board. When the 3 staff are on calls we have 1 line remaining which allows for a patient calling to be put into a “queue” and will be answered (in sequence) when the next operator becomes available. However, when a 5th patient calls, as there are no more lines available, the system cannot answer the call and therefore the caller will get the engaged tone
It would be easy to fix this by putting additional lines onto the telephone system but this would also require adding additional staff to answer the extra lines. Therefore, the cost involved in adding 1 line to the system would cost the practice in excess of £20,000 to cover employment costs such as salary, national insurance and pension. This is something the practice cannot afford without additional funding from the Health Board. We have made the Health Board aware of the telephone system problems but as the NHS is under severe cost restrictions there is no possibility that the problem will be resolved soon.
If we put the situation into perspective, however, it should be noted that the telephone system is not always so busy and there are times of the day when the phone system is reasonably quiet.
A Monday, especially in the morning, is by far the busiest time of the week, as well as the days immediately following a bank holiday (such as Easter, Christmas & New Year and the September weekend). The only short term solution is to ask patients to be patient and try to get through when they can. Alternatively patients can visit the practice and make an appointment or order a repeat prescription in person. Additionally, repeat prescriptions can be ordered online on our website www.londonroadmedicalpractice.co.uk or by calling our Repeat Prescription Line which connects you to an answering machine where you can leave a message any time day or night, even at weekends.
On most other days of the week it is much easier to get through on the phone, however, if possible it is best to avoid contacting the practice early in the day (before 10.00am) as this is when we are at our busiest each day.