Make it easier to get a GP appointment

On a call yesterday for MPs with the Secretary of State for Health I raised the issue of GP appointments. I asked that GP surgeries should have a phone and internet booking system which allows a patient to get an on line or face to face consultation as appropriate. I have been getting complaints where a surgery requires someone to ring at a single  specified time each day to see if they can get an appointment that day. In the worst cases there is great difficulty in getting through at all. NHS surgery services should allow forward booking with good phone access as many good practices already offer. I was told this is an issue which senior NHS management is working on. It would be possible for NHS England to require a minimum  standard or to issue New guidance.


  1. Sam Vara
    May 11, 2021

    An actual appointment with a GP seems very old-fashioned now. If you phone our health centre, you have to listen to several minutes of recordings about what to do if you have chest pains, then stuff about covid, then how the practice celebrates diversity, then how it won’t tolerate verbal or physical attacks on staff, then directing you to their website (which, strangely enough, has all the same information) and finally, if you are sufficiently patient or desperate, you can choose an option to speak to a real receptionist. At certain times of the day. And then usually the phone is not answered.

    The overall impression given is that that the NHS spends more time managing impressions people have about it, than actually treating people.

  2. DavidJ
    May 11, 2021

    My GP used to use an application called “Ask My GP” which was an excellent way to get advice and book an appointment if necessary. Recently I had an email from the practice stating it was going to be binned. Yet another failure of the NHS to put patients interests first.

  3. Alan Jutson
    May 11, 2021

    Indeed Medical treatment needs to get back to as close to normal as possible with face-face consultations, a close friend of ours was admitted as an emergency to hospital by ambulance in the early hours of Saturday morning, simply because the on line assessment and subsequent treatment from his local GP practice over the previous 3 weeks not only did not work, but actually contributed to make him more sick, with evermore pain, due to unsuitable/wrong diagnosis and medication.
    He has now spent 4 days in hospital having a whole series of blood tests, x ray’s and scans to try and get to the bottom and real cause of the multiple problem’s he has now developed.
    Clearly on line diagnosis has failed him miserably, and is now costing the taxpayer a small fortune to try and resolve.

  4. Kenneth Lincoln
    May 11, 2021

    Thank you John for raising this extremely important issue. I agree entirely with Sam Vara above, however, if you have to listen to these annoying recordings it means you were at least connected. I can phone again and again and get a message stating that “we cannot take your call please try later”. If you are persistent and eventually get through you will be told “you are in a queue you will be answered shortly”, normally that would be number ten or higher and that will mean an hour at least. Finally, if you wait you may make it to reception, you ask to speak to a doctor, the answer is no, but you can get a call back. When will that be?, certainly not today, possibly tomorrow some time after two o’clock. The longest I have been told was a weeks time. This is when you reach for the car keys and race to A & E which none of us want to do.

  5. Denise Gale
    May 12, 2021

    On many occasions it has taken more than a hundred calls to actually be told you are number ten in the queue, to then actually speak to the receptionist and be told that there is nothing available today please try again tomorrow!!!!!!!
    At my GP surgery you used to be able to book on line but that all stopped last March due to COVID .
    I am under a Wokingham surgery .

    1. Alan Jutson
      May 13, 2021


      Think we have all had that experience at one time or another, indeed it has been going on long before the pandemic, so not just a recent problem.
      Plenty of people making the same comments on local Social media streams on almost a daily basis as well.
      Certainly the local system is failing the people and has been for some time.

  6. Peter Drummond
    May 12, 2021

    It is a fact of politics that if you want to screw something up, nationalise it; this is as true about healthcare and our cursed NHS as telecoms, water or electricity. Many/most countries have universal healthcare (don’t mention the US) that function effectively and all have better outcomes, on the measures that matter, than the ‘our’ NHS.

  7. Terry Malcolm Bailey
    May 13, 2021

    I think you are being a little Harsh. I have personally been well satisfied with the NHS They are certainly not cursed, At my age 82 I can remember when I was 6 years of age my Mom and Dad talking about getting the doctor in as my sister was ill they finally decided they could not afford it.
    I agree that the surgery’s need either more staff or more surgery,s the amount of houses being built without a considerable number of new surgery’s makes thing very difficult and that is ignoring the pandemic.

    1. John
      May 17, 2021

      No point in building surgeries as GP numbers are declining, as more are retiring due to prohibitive taxes on retirement income, than being trained. At thisrate surgeries will be closing faster than new ones open,

  8. Prof Rick Chandler
    May 14, 2021

    Good to see this is being aired. I’m well pleased with my service from the Woosehill surgery in the present situation but feel that they are always struggling due to resource limitations.
    I’m concerned that once again our Data are being moved with little publicity. Has John a view on this? Responses will overstretch the front line even more.

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