New GP rules to end '8am rush' to book appointments after promising trial

-Credit: (Image: Pixabay)
-Credit: (Image: Pixabay)

The new NHS guidelines designed to end the much-dreaded 8am scramble for GP appointments have reportedly doubled the capacity. This comes after a south London GP surgery trialled a scheme that not only eased the pressures of the early morning influx of calls but also helped saved a patient's life.

Wide Way Medical Centre's receptionists typically field around 500 calls on an average Monday morning.

Previously, due to the volume of calls, many callers were advised to head straight to A&E because they weren't able to get through. However, under this groundbreaking scheme, every single incoming call is answered with the assistance of ambulance dispatchers who help handle the heavy influx of demand.

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This process has resulted in 80 percent of all same-day appointment requests being handed over to a separate hub of 20 call handlers from the London Ambulance Service, based about 15 miles away in Barking.

An ambulance dispatcher identified an 83 year old man suffering a diabetic crisis during one of these calls, potentially saving his life by immediately recognising "red flag" symptoms and sending an ambulance right away, reports Birmingham Live.

The head receptionist of Wide Way Medical Centre, Julie Schultzers, candidly expressed to The Times: "Previously some patients would be on hold for half an hour before getting through."

"It was very stressful and busy; patients would get upset. Now the average time to answer the phone is less than five minutes. It has made a tremendous difference."

Dr Johra Alam, clinical director for urgent care at the London Ambulance Service, said: "Quick telephone answering is what we do at the ambulance service. It is our area of expertise."

She told The Times newspaper in a new interview: "Scaling this model up would have a huge impact on emergency care. Currently if patients can't access their GP they will go somewhere else in the system - the pressures spill out on to AandE."

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