What to expect if you have a telephone appointment booked

We recently received a query from the CCG on our procedures surrounding telephone appointments and they asked if we had put any information on our website about this. So far, we had not done so, but we agreed this would be a good idea.

How can you book a telephone appointment?

There are a few ways:

  • You can book your appointment online using the NHS App or Patient Access
  • You can phone the surgery from 8 am on working days for a same-day or pre-bookable appointment (subject to availability)

Who will the appointment be with?

At the time you book your appointment, you will be informed if the appointment is with a doctor (only doctor’s appointments are available online), with an advanced nurse practitioner, a physician associate, a pharmacist, or a nurse. You can see who the appointment will be with online, or you can ask the receptionist who will be phoning you.

When will you receive your phone call?

You won’t be given an exact time for your appointment. Instead, you will be informed if it will be morning or afternoon.

As it is very difficult to assess how long appointments will last and whether interruptions or emergencies will crop up, appointments may be delayed. We, therefore, do not give you an exact time as we can’t promise the exact time will be achieved. Patients who have online access are able to see the time of the telephone appointment, however, this is purely indicative of whether the call will take place in the morning or afternoon.

Why do I need to give a reason for my appointment?

This helps the doctor to prioritise appointments if needed. Occasionally, a patient may ask for an appointment for something that needs far more urgent action and the patient may be contacted to go to A&E instead. A patient may also book an appointment for something the doctor does not deal with, and the appointment may then need to be rearranged.

Or, the doctor notices the problem requires a face-to-face appointment instead. He/she will then send a message to the receptionist to invite the patient to come to the surgery instead.

Why is it important to know where the doctor is at the time of the appointment?

Those patients who have booked telephone appointments online will have noticed that the appointment is either in Cudworth or in Grimethorpe.

If the doctor decides the appointment should be converted to face-to-face instead, the patient needs to be aware of where the doctor is.

It is also important to realise the doctor may call you for a face-to-face instead. If you are unable to attend the surgery (or the site where the doctor is), your appointment may need to be rescheduled.

How will I know the call is from the doctor?

Unfortunately, you won’t. All our calls come from a withheld number.

What does the surgery advise if you have a telephone appointment booked?

We advise you to keep your phone charged and with you at all times. As we can’t say when exactly the doctor will call, it is important you can answer the call when it comes. We also advise you the call will come from a withheld number.

What happens if you miss the call?

In an ideal world, the doctor would continue to call until he finally got through. This is not possible in real life.

Instead, the doctor will make a maximum of 3 attempts before sending a text message to state you have missed your call and to rearrange the appointment.

How could you get a text message but not have any missed calls showing on your phone?

Initially, we considered the possibility of having an incorrect number on file. However, that seems unlikely as a text message would then also not have come through.

We believe you will only get the text message and not have any missed calls showing if your phone temporarily had no signal at the time of the calls. We have no other way of explaining this problem.

If you receive a text message to state you have missed your call, unless it states to phone to speak to the doctor, rearrange your appointment for another time.

Why don’t we allow you to book Face-to-Face appointments directly?

Although this is not possible at the moment, we are reviewing this and are planning to move towards a hybrid appointment system where the patient can discuss with the surgery whether they prefer a telephone or face-to-face appointment.

Obviously, there are things that can only be done face-to-face and patients may not be given a choice in those circumstances.

Please be aware we still ask you to wear a face-covering when coming to the surgery to protect you and other patients.