Phone System Changes

Telephone Access

We recognise that phone access is an acute problem at the practice. And the main area we hear the most negative feedback from patients.

What patients dislike about the telephone? Lengthy call wait times, queue position 1 issues, and  having to wait long period of times for quick queries.

Prior actions: We have previously changed phone system in 2020, increased staffing levels and introduced an e-consultation service. Although e-consultation service has been a success in allowing patients better access online the phone has continued to be a weak area and needs improvement.

Action we are taking now:

  • We have engaged with our PPG and local ICB to share your concerns and find a solution.
  • We have audited our phone system to review peak times.
  • We are changing our phone line provider to the ICB recommended provider, who has a strong history of dealing with GP practice call systems.
  • We are installing cloud-based telephony system which will allow for a call back system and should reduce wait times.
  • We have changed our telephone operating times for some of our options to allow for better management of calls when our phones lines are busy.
  • We are installing a call board in our administration room, so staff have easy to view live access to where calls are being directed and of any issues.
  • We are communicating with our patients of changes we make and keeping an open dialogue of what works, what doesn’t and maintaining ongoing reviews of systems.


New phone system


8th March 24 Installation date

12th March 24 In house training day

14th March 24 Go live date

15th March 24 IT follow up

We will always do our best to ensure new systems are installed as best as possible however we ask that you allow for some disruption during the first 2 weeks. 


What will be different for me?

Our main menu options will differ slightly.

  • We will be prioritising appointment phone calls during peak times. This means for other general queries or administrative task you will be asked to call back later or use our online facilities.
  • A call back system will be in use. This allows you to select an option to wait for a call back rather than wait in the queue.
  • The queue system be shorter. We will hold a maximum of 5 patients in the queue. Any patients over this i.e. queue position 6 will be offered a call back service.


What will be different for the practice?

We will have a large call board installed within the practice that allows all staff to easily see live calls as they happen. This will help aid team members to assist at busier then expected times when needed.

New phones and operating systems installed. Allowing better monitoring of users and calls.

We are changing how our reception teamwork. The reception team on the front desk will no longer answer calls and deal only with patients that have visit the practice in person. The remaining members will be set calls desks upstairs to answer phone lines. Non urgent administrative will be allocated to outside of our peak access times.

We will regularly engage with our PPG for feedback on progress and any issues or concerns.



How does it work?

You will call the practice as usual and select the relevant option.

Some options will no longer be available during peak times, and you may be redirected online or to call back later. If you call the appointments line for general enquires during peak times, the care navigator will NOT deal with your query and will ask you call again at the right time.

How do I request a call back?

You can only request a call back if you are in queue position 6 or higher. Anyone in queue position 5 or below we would expect to be answered within a reasonable time frame by our reception team.

 If you are in queue position 6 or higher you will hear the option to select a call back by pressing 1. To register the call back YOU MUST SELECT OPTION 1 THEN WAIT FOR THE CALL TO END/ BE HUNG UP ON. If you do not do this action the call back does not get registered, and we will not know you requested one.

What happens if I am in queue position 5 or higher and I am waiting longer then 20mins?

20mins is an average wait time for most GP practices. If your call takes over this time to be answered, then we ask that you complete the online patient feedback form on our website with sufficient details so we can look into any issues. See section below What should I do if I have an issue with the phone lines?

Will I go back into a queue for a call back?

If you request a call back, you will not loose your place in the queue. For example, if you are the 6th caller and request a call back from us; the phone system will ensure that your call continues to stay in position 6 and will continue to achieve a higher position until it gets to No 1. Once no 1 is reached the system will make a call to you from the practice.

What happens if I miss a call back?

If you miss a call back a text will go to the number you called us from, alerting you that we have contacted you. The text will say as follows:


Lister House Surgery tried to call you back. If you still wish to speak to us, please call again. Your call will have priority if you call back today. Please note that if you miss a call back for the 2nd time that you will not return to the priority system and will have to que to be answered.


You will be able to call the surgery back from this number and be connected to the surgery again as a priority. This means that you will be sent directly to No1 in the queue.

Please note that should anything to happen to this call and you not be connected that you will no longer be a priority and will go back into the normal queuing system.

 I missed a call back but didn’t get a text option to go back into the queue as a priority why?

This can happen for many reasons but the most common would be any of the following:

  • You called us using a different number, to the one you’re now using.
  • You have not given consent for us to text you.

Limitations of the phone system

We are excited to have the new phone system installed and are hoping that this should help alleviate some of the challenges you have shared with us regarding access.

However, we are practical and would note that this may not resolve all issues in practice which can impact on access. Some issues are common amongst most practices nationally these are:

Staffing levels – increasing the NHS GP practices are facing high staff turnovers and more and more staff leaving the profession. This is caused by a multitude of political factors including low pay, increased patient abusive behaviour and high levels of workload.

Demand and Capacity – Patients over the years have become more and more reliant on GP services, and requested access to services are at unprecedented highs. Additionally as hospital service referrals fall behind the practices receive even more demand on our services, causing us to work well over our capacity and in turn this can slow some processes down.

Patient education – Many issues that patients want to see a GP for are better served by a specialist or practitioner or provider who deals with that specific issue. Many of these providers can be accessed through our reception team or self-referrals or requesting via our e-consultation form. Similarly, a lot of patient information like referrals and medical history is available via the NHS app. Unfortunately, a lot of calls to practices are enquires about services or answers that can already be found online. Similarly requests are made by phone to see a GP that may not need GP intervention. We would always ask that you check our website in the first instance for any queries.

Our new phone system will not resolve all these national issues, and we ask that you are mindful of this.


What should I do if I have an issue with the phone lines?

If something is not working properly, we want to know about it! You can use our online feedback form available on our website to submit any comments or concerns about the system. These can be good or bad items and will be passed to the management team. 

All feedback is shared with our team for learning and training purposes.

It is helpful for us when making comments regarding phone access for you to tell us:

  • Date/ time you called.
  • Telephone number you called from (lots of patients have more than 1 phone number)
  • Exactly what happened when you called?

Good example of patient feed back


I am writing regarding the phone system.


I called on 01/01/24 at approx. 2pm. I got to number 1 in the queue system, but no one answered for 40 mins, then I got cut off.


I called from my mums mobile – 07XXXXXXX


Please see why this happened.

Bad example of patient feed back


I am very cross and do not like the phone system. Do something.