All GP surgeries need modern telephone systems to improve patient access

Catherine West MP, Labour MP for Hornsey & Wood Green has been speaking out in Parliament about the need for capital funding to improve GP telephone systems, and make it easier for patients to get through to their GP surgery on the telephone.

GP services are under extreme pressure, with many patients attending appointments that they put off making at the height of the pandemic, others needing extra care because they are on long waiting lists for hospital treatment, and the ongoing vaccination programme. Some patients have found it difficult to arrange an appointment with their GP, or see them face-to-face.

In May, NHS England issued new guidance saying patients must now be offered face-to-face GP appointments if that is their preference ‘unless there are good clinical reasons to the contrary’. NHS England has since set a target for all GP practices to deliver ‘at or above’ pre-pandemic appointment levels this year as the government seeks to hit its election pledge of 50m more appointments by 2024.

At the election Boris Johnson promised to deliver 6,000 extra GPs but on his watch the numbers have gone down making it harder for patients to see a doctor face to face.

Catherine West MP said: “Demand for GP appointments is soaring and lots of people have told me how difficult it can be even to get through on the telephone. The Government needs to step up and deliver the 6,000 extra GPs that they’ve repeatedly promised, but there also needs to be investment in the outdated telephone systems. In Haringey, 50% of practices still don’t have modern telephony, creating more frustration for both patients and GPs. I’ve urged the Government to act to address this inequality and I’m pleased the Leader of the House recognised the importance of the issue. Patients and GPs deserve better

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