Patients at a north-east medical practice have criticised a new phone booking system which has left some people trying for days to get a doctor’s appointment.
Fyvie Oldmeldrum Medical Group, which comprises of Oldmeldrum Health Centre and Fyvie Health Centre, changed its appointment booking system over the New Year.
Previously, patients called the surgery and spoke directly to the receptionist to make an appointment.
But the new phone system prompts patients to choose from a series of multiple choice questions, and those seeking an appointment with a doctor are then placed in a queue, with some patients taking multiple attempts over several days to get through.
One patient, Lorraine Kelly, said: “I was recently ill with an infection, and my husband had to call three days in a row to get me an appointment, by which time I was bed-ridden.
“The previous system worked much better.
“With the new system, you can wait ages in a queue before anyone speaks to you.
“By the time you get through, most of the appointments are gone.
“Not everyone has time to hold for ages – I’m a registered childminder so am always busy in the morning.
“It actually puts you off calling the surgery even to make a routine check-up appointment.
“The new telephone system has been causing so many problems.”
Several other patients took to social media to complain.
While praising the doctors and receptionists at the practice, they called the new phone booking system an “ongoing problem.”
An NHS Grampian spokeswoman said the system was in use at other GP practices in the area and had proven to be effective.
She said: “We’re sorry to hear some patients are unhappy and we would encourage them to contact the practice directly with their concerns.
“Speaking generally, the busiest time for phone calls at the practice is between 8am and 9am.
“On Monday, 607 calls were made during that time, almost two thirds of the total calls made that day.
“If patients are able to wait and call a little later in the day it leaves that time clear for the most serious cases.
“The recruitment of two advanced nurse practitioners means the practice is able to offer more appointments than ever, so patients should not be concerned they will not be seen.”