Horsefair Surgery to tackle call answering delays with recruitment drive

Hosefair Surgery, Banbury
Hosefair Surgery, Banbury

A town centre surgery says patients’ problems getting through on the phone will soon be over.

Frustrated callers have continued to report difficulties trying to get through to Horsefair Surgery in Banbury.

Tim Holt, clinical manager of Horsefair Surgery NNL-171114-112700001

Tim Holt, clinical manager of Horsefair Surgery NNL-171114-112700001

Some say they have tried repeatedly with limited success. Patients on a Facebook discussion complained that they had tried between 20 - 62 times in a single day in a bid to make appointments.

Clinical Director, Dr Tim Holt, said: “Our staff are not ignoring the phones, they are working very hard to meet the demand.

“We sometimes encounter 200 calls an hour and the reason for the problem, having opened up more lines, has been the need to recruit more staff to handle the calls.

“We are inducting new call handlers and anticipate this will alleviate the problem.

“We are also looking at ways of reducing calls by allowing easier access to results through other means, providing more online bookings and encouraging patients to call at quieter times for non-urgent issues,” said Dr Holt.

Kim Matthews said she had problems seeing a GP.

“It took me several hours and many attempts to get through when I came out of hospital and it was important to see a doctor as the hospital had told me to contact my GP to be seen,” she said.

“I had pneumonia and sepsis. I had followed advice not to bother the GP with ‘cold symptoms’ but treat it yourself. I did and ended up very ill in hospital. But I still had to wait 10 days for an appointment.”

Keith Strangwood, chairman of the Keep the Horton General group and NHS campaigner, said: “This surgery had nine GPs. Its website now says it has one fulltime and four part-time GPs. When a surgery has to make a profit, it is not surprising there are problems with people trying to get appointments with the person they wish to see.”

Dr Holt joined Horsefair last October after nearly two years as Lead GP in a practice in Earls Court, London.

Horsefair was taken over by Integral Medical Holdings (IMH) Ltd in 2017 after the last three of nine GPs left. The practice provides GP services to 17,000 patients.