Phone nightmare could be over soon for Yate surgery's patients
A PHONE system used by a Yate surgery is being replaced after a deluge of complaints.
Patients of Green Valleys Health, which runs Abbotswood surgery, say they can spend hours trying to get through to book appointments.
A year ago doctors wrote to patients admitting that the phone service was "not acceptable".
But there has been no improvement since then, with complaints continuing on the NHS ratings and reviews site of "poor service", as patients describe being repeatedly unable to get through, being put on hold for 10 minutes at a time and suddenly being disconnected.
Now Green Valleys Health, which also runs Leap Valley Surgery in Downend and Emersons Green Medical Centre, says it is working to get a new system in place by the end of the year as a "top priority".
In this year's NHS patient satisfaction survey,48% of Leap Valley patients, including those at Abbotswood, described their experience of booking appointments as "poor".
Only 30% of them said it was easy to get through on the phone.
And a recent critical report by the Care Quality Commission also highlighted the issue.
Ray Govier, from Bromley Heath, told the Voice he has waited for more than two hours at a time to get through.
He described his most recent experience of arranging for a blood test and receiving the results as "absolutely hopeless".
Ray said: "You dial the number but you don't get a reply – you occasionally get a recorded voice coming on, then that collapses and dies and you get a ringing tone and no answer.
"I couldn't get hold of a human being. A friend of mine decided to listen to the ringing tone and count the times it rang, but stopped after 100."
Ray, who is 93, ended up driving to Leap Valley after not receiving a promised call to tell him the test results, then waited outside, as the waiting area was closed due to coronavirus restrictions.
Ray said that as he waited, a woman came to the door of the surgery to beg for an appointment after failing to get through on the phone.
He said: "There's no connection between the patients and the surgery."
Green Valleys Health has now announced that it is buying a new phone system.
GP Partner Dr Jonathan Evans said: “We are deeply sorry to hear about these experiences and for the frustration caused to those involved.
"We are aware of the ongoing issues relating to our telephone lines and improving this is a top priority.
"We are in the process purchasing a new telephone system, which will better meet our needs and reduce waiting times for our patients.
"We would like to reassure patients that we are focused on getting this new system in place by the end of the year.
“Once again, we offer our heartfelt apologies for the distress and frustration caused to both our staff and patients by our telephone system. Access to good telephony is now more important than ever and we are committed to improving the systems so that our patients receive a better service.”