Summary of report content
Healthwatch volunteers rang all GP practices across Redbridge in order to assess the current situation regarding patient’s access to practices. They created a script to ensure similar information was sought from each practice to identify how practices are offering appointments, the length of time it takes to book an appointment, and whether and in what circumstances a patient would be offered a face to face appointment.
Volunteers found that:
- call waiting times varied greatly varied between most practices- they were on kept on hold for an average of ten minutes;
- it took an average of three telephone calls before a volunteer could get through to a practice- practices were called five or more times before the call was answered;
- several practices had pre-recorded message with information relating to Covid-19 and their appointments system- they were generally useful, however, on a few occasions the message lasted for three minutes which made it difficult for the caller to remain focused, process all the information and remember which number to press at the end of the message;
- telephone appointments were being offered at all the practices while some even offered additional advance telephone appointments for non-urgent matters alongside the “on the day” appointments;
- only some practices were offering online or video appointments- only one offered patients to email photos to their GP e.g. a photo of a rash;
- only some practices were offering bookable face-to-face appointments following a triage telephone appointment;
The report contains recommendations from Healthwatch Redbridge.