Patients call for change, branding surgery's booking system 'ridiculous'

Braintree and Witham Times: Blandford Medical Centre in Braintree Blandford Medical Centre in Braintree

Frustrated parents have condemned a surgery's appointment system after allegedly making 120 calls in a bid to get through.

Blandford Medical Centre, in Mace Avenue, Braintree, operates a “book on the day” system but parents have complained that they are unable to get through to the surgery to book and when they do, there are often no appointments left.

Brett Lincoln, of the Fairview Estate, Braintree, said he drove to the surgery to get an appointment for his three-year-old daughter, Amber, after he could not get through on the phone, despite calling 120 times.

He said: “At 8am I started ringing and I just couldn’t get through, I just got an engaged tone.

“It’s not the first time I’ve not been able to get through. It’s ridiculous.”

Caroline Hird, practice manager for Blandford Medical Centre, said: “There are a vast array of appointments that are available.

“If the appointments have been exhausted then we do have to ask patients to call in the following day.

“If anyone has any concerns do get in touch with the practice and we will investigate.”

See this week's Braintree and Witham Times for the full story.

Comments (10)

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6:25pm Tue 4 Feb 14

pierre-pierre says...

dont look for the story in this weeks Brainless and Witless it was in the Jan 30th edition.

Yes the system is ridiculous, go to the desk to make an appointment, Sorry all todays have gone - at 0815. they have never offered me one of the other types same day, 48 hour, or longer away.

recently had a Broomfield check, went to desk, yes we have the results, the Doctor wants to speak to you - good, can I have an appointment, sorry no all gone, he will phone you, good, sorry all phone blocks gone, try tomorrow, guess what same answer.

Reminded the receptionist that the doctor wanted to speak to me - DO IT OR ELSE
dont look for the story in this weeks Brainless and Witless it was in the Jan 30th edition. Yes the system is ridiculous, go to the desk to make an appointment, Sorry all todays have gone - at 0815. they have never offered me one of the other types same day, 48 hour, or longer away. recently had a Broomfield check, went to desk, yes we have the results, the Doctor wants to speak to you - good, can I have an appointment, sorry no all gone, he will phone you, good, sorry all phone blocks gone, try tomorrow, guess what same answer. Reminded the receptionist that the doctor wanted to speak to me - DO IT OR ELSE pierre-pierre
  • Score: 7

6:29pm Tue 4 Feb 14

YNWAIE says...

Unfortunately my family and I are registered here also and agree it's very difficult to get an appt. I find if you persevere you do eventually get through and book an appt. but I can see why people give up. In their defence you can register for online appts.

From what I hear every surgery is the same no matter where you live and it's a cost of today's burden on the nhs. It's a fact of life
Unfortunately my family and I are registered here also and agree it's very difficult to get an appt. I find if you persevere you do eventually get through and book an appt. but I can see why people give up. In their defence you can register for online appts. From what I hear every surgery is the same no matter where you live and it's a cost of today's burden on the nhs. It's a fact of life YNWAIE
  • Score: -1

8:05pm Tue 4 Feb 14

hejy66 says...

The surgery is an absolute joke!! I have been with Blanford surgery all my life and it was run very well up until they moved. Since then it has become an absolute shambles. I called one day and asked for a non urgent appointment 'sorry there are no appointments left today' came the reply. when i explained that i wanted to book in advance i was told it is not possible!!! So when am a supposed to get to see my GP?? Should i lie and say that my need is urgent and deprive someone of an appointment who genuinly needs the slot?? I was patient (no pun intended) with them as i know that if a was able to get to see one of the medical proffesionals, that i would be treated well. But immagine my annoyance when i did need an urgent appointment when i called and after having to explain my embarrasing symptoms to a very rude receptionist (with probably no medical training) to be told that my GP no longer works at the surgery!! So who the hell is my GP then. When were you planning on notifying me of this?!?! Have any of the administrative staff ever dealt with the public before or with the NHS?? The whole opperation as an absolute shambles. I told them that i was going to move to another surgery 'all surgeries are them same as ours' i was told. No they are not! I have since got into another surgery that is well run and they cant do enough for you. I knew Blanfords was a poorly run establishment, but didnt realise to what extent until i moved to another surgery which highlighted the fact. If you think that the grass isnt always greener, in this case it really really is!
The surgery is an absolute joke!! I have been with Blanford surgery all my life and it was run very well up until they moved. Since then it has become an absolute shambles. I called one day and asked for a non urgent appointment 'sorry there are no appointments left today' came the reply. when i explained that i wanted to book in advance i was told it is not possible!!! So when am a supposed to get to see my GP?? Should i lie and say that my need is urgent and deprive someone of an appointment who genuinly needs the slot?? I was patient (no pun intended) with them as i know that if a was able to get to see one of the medical proffesionals, that i would be treated well. But immagine my annoyance when i did need an urgent appointment when i called and after having to explain my embarrasing symptoms to a very rude receptionist (with probably no medical training) to be told that my GP no longer works at the surgery!! So who the hell is my GP then. When were you planning on notifying me of this?!?! Have any of the administrative staff ever dealt with the public before or with the NHS?? The whole opperation as an absolute shambles. I told them that i was going to move to another surgery 'all surgeries are them same as ours' i was told. No they are not! I have since got into another surgery that is well run and they cant do enough for you. I knew Blanfords was a poorly run establishment, but didnt realise to what extent until i moved to another surgery which highlighted the fact. If you think that the grass isnt always greener, in this case it really really is! hejy66
  • Score: 8

7:00am Wed 5 Feb 14

panfield says...

I'm not sure this surgery it's run with the patients' best interest at heart. It would appear they test the severity of your condition with an impenitrable and obstructive booking system that is unable to cope with demand. The managers and staff should ask themselves how well they would do if this was a commercial operation.
I'm not sure this surgery it's run with the patients' best interest at heart. It would appear they test the severity of your condition with an impenitrable and obstructive booking system that is unable to cope with demand. The managers and staff should ask themselves how well they would do if this was a commercial operation. panfield
  • Score: 4

7:06am Wed 5 Feb 14

OMPITA [Intl] says...

YNWAIE says that from what he or she hears is that every surgery is the same no matter where you live and it's a cost of today's burden on the nhs. It's a fact of life.

Not true. – I’m pleased to say.

When I moved to ‘Planet Zog’ around ten years ago from an idyllic rural village in Wiltshire with a very friendly doctors’ surgery it was with some trepidation that I approached a rather grubby looking local surgery to register with a GP. Having had to engage in a jostling free for all multi-way dialogue (several languages all at once) through a thickened glass security screen with a ‘receptionist’ (what a bl**dy reception!) I was delivered to the practice nurse for my initial assessment.

Whilst she took my blood she was demonstrating her multi-tasking skills by simultaneously eating a sandwich and partaking of a personal phone call. I fled, and took pot luck on trying my luck at the next surgery ‘just down the road’.

What an amazing difference! They are absolutely charming, friendly, efficient, cheerful and seemingly always able to fix me up at virtually a moment’s notice with a GP. Sometimes I might have to return the next day, but often it’s case of “can you come back this afternoon and Doctor ‘So and So’ will see you then”? They are good, very very good - so it all goes to prove that it can be done and indeed is being done in some places.

There is no doubt in my mind that so much of it is down to the quality, commitment and attitude of the staff who fill the void that one must cross in order to actually engage with your GP. It strikes me that a significant number of Practice Managers are just not ‘cutting the mustard’. Perhaps they should be ‘put out to graze’ in order to make way for more competent candidates to take their place.

Maybe if their continued employment was dependent upon gaining a satisfactory score from patient feedback surveys one or two of them might seriously consider how they might be able to improve their quality of service.
YNWAIE says that from what he or she hears is that every surgery is the same no matter where you live and it's a cost of today's burden on the nhs. It's a fact of life. Not true. – I’m pleased to say. When I moved to ‘Planet Zog’ around ten years ago from an idyllic rural village in Wiltshire with a very friendly doctors’ surgery it was with some trepidation that I approached a rather grubby looking local surgery to register with a GP. Having had to engage in a jostling free for all multi-way dialogue (several languages all at once) through a thickened glass security screen with a ‘receptionist’ (what a bl**dy reception!) I was delivered to the practice nurse for my initial assessment. Whilst she took my blood she was demonstrating her multi-tasking skills by simultaneously eating a sandwich and partaking of a personal phone call. I fled, and took pot luck on trying my luck at the next surgery ‘just down the road’. What an amazing difference! They are absolutely charming, friendly, efficient, cheerful and seemingly always able to fix me up at virtually a moment’s notice with a GP. Sometimes I might have to return the next day, but often it’s case of “can you come back this afternoon and Doctor ‘So and So’ will see you then”? They are good, very very good - so it all goes to prove that it can be done and indeed is being done in some places. There is no doubt in my mind that so much of it is down to the quality, commitment and attitude of the staff who fill the void that one must cross in order to actually engage with your GP. It strikes me that a significant number of Practice Managers are just not ‘cutting the mustard’. Perhaps they should be ‘put out to graze’ in order to make way for more competent candidates to take their place. Maybe if their continued employment was dependent upon gaining a satisfactory score from patient feedback surveys one or two of them might seriously consider how they might be able to improve their quality of service. OMPITA [Intl]
  • Score: 4

7:51am Wed 5 Feb 14

bexy123 says...

Can never get through on the phones or if you are lucky enough to all the appointments have gone. The only way to get one is to queue up just before they open. I work in the hospital opposite & each morning the queue outside gets longer & longer, even one lady brought her own stool to sit on. People start queueing just before 7.30am as they have no choice. Last year I was extremely ill, husband went down to get an appointment, no appointments, had to go to Springfield Walk In centre, seen within 15 minutes, only to be told "I think you have meningitis" & was rushed to Broomfield! At times the Blandford surgery only have 1 receptionist on duty, stood in the queue for 20 minutes, receptionist called into the back office asking for someone to help but no one came. I was 3rd in the queue, lady behind me had just had a hip replacement done & was in agony standing there for so long, I let her go in front of me. Unfortunately I can see why people are using A&E because they can't get in at the doctors!
Can never get through on the phones or if you are lucky enough to all the appointments have gone. The only way to get one is to queue up just before they open. I work in the hospital opposite & each morning the queue outside gets longer & longer, even one lady brought her own stool to sit on. People start queueing just before 7.30am as they have no choice. Last year I was extremely ill, husband went down to get an appointment, no appointments, had to go to Springfield Walk In centre, seen within 15 minutes, only to be told "I think you have meningitis" & was rushed to Broomfield! At times the Blandford surgery only have 1 receptionist on duty, stood in the queue for 20 minutes, receptionist called into the back office asking for someone to help but no one came. I was 3rd in the queue, lady behind me had just had a hip replacement done & was in agony standing there for so long, I let her go in front of me. Unfortunately I can see why people are using A&E because they can't get in at the doctors! bexy123
  • Score: 3

11:17am Wed 5 Feb 14

phillip15 says...

I agree with all the above comments. I was on the phone for 20 mins trying to book an appointment, finally someone picked up and then hung up straight away!

I have spoke with a member of staff and even she admits the place is a shambles! she said that patients start cueing up at 7.30 am and the queue goes half way round the corner!!! She also said that they have received a number of complaints.

The online booking system is a joke. 3-4 weeks to get an appointment???

This has been going on for ages, they are aware of it and it still goes on! I don't know whether it is a shortage of G.P.'s or what but something needs to be done.
I agree with all the above comments. I was on the phone for 20 mins trying to book an appointment, finally someone picked up and then hung up straight away! I have spoke with a member of staff and even she admits the place is a shambles! she said that patients start cueing up at 7.30 am and the queue goes half way round the corner!!! She also said that they have received a number of complaints. The online booking system is a joke. 3-4 weeks to get an appointment??? This has been going on for ages, they are aware of it and it still goes on! I don't know whether it is a shortage of G.P.'s or what but something needs to be done. phillip15
  • Score: 4

9:45pm Wed 5 Feb 14

ginginna says...

I do believe that your practice is charged if you attend a walk in centre. Sadly money is probably the best incentive here. I have heard good things about the walk in centre at Springfield (if you are able to of course).
I do believe that your practice is charged if you attend a walk in centre. Sadly money is probably the best incentive here. I have heard good things about the walk in centre at Springfield (if you are able to of course). ginginna
  • Score: 1

10:39am Thu 13 Feb 14

KS1990 says...

The booking system is absolutely ridiculous and the receptionists are rude. There have been many occasions where I have made 60-70 calls to them and not got through, then when I finally do there are no appointments left! Have recently moved to another doctors surgery, called this morning and got through straight away and got an appointment. Blandford house needs to sort it out!
The booking system is absolutely ridiculous and the receptionists are rude. There have been many occasions where I have made 60-70 calls to them and not got through, then when I finally do there are no appointments left! Have recently moved to another doctors surgery, called this morning and got through straight away and got an appointment. Blandford house needs to sort it out! KS1990
  • Score: 1

11:48am Thu 13 Feb 14

OMPITA [Intl] says...

Delighted to hear KS 1990's comments.

Like I said in my comments on 5th February it can be done.

Although when I called in to my surgery just before 6pm last Thursday to request a routine prescription replenishment I had to wait until the next day before it was ready for collection.

I do so I hope they're not going downhill!
Delighted to hear KS 1990's comments. Like I said in my comments on 5th February it can be done. Although when I called in to my surgery just before 6pm last Thursday to request a routine prescription replenishment I had to wait until the next day before it was ready for collection. I do so I hope they're not going downhill! OMPITA [Intl]
  • Score: 1

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