Booking in top of patients’ priorities

The new Todmorden Health Centre.
The new Todmorden Health Centre.

OPENING hours and booking appointments led issues patients responded to when they took part in a survey.

Members of Todmorden Patients Participation Group and Todmorden Medical Centre staff worked together to produce a questionnaire about the customer friendliness and efficiency of the centre, with an action plan being drawn up from the results.

In all more than 300 patients completed the 17-question questionnaire, from which five issues have been included on the action plan.

These are headed by the ease of phoning for an appointment, which 60 per cent of respondents felt was not easy. The PPG requested reasons for this, with staff explaining current staffing levels and the phone system, no action being taken because these are out of the practice’s control.

There are 30 phone lines into the building with a maximum of six staff available to answer calls at 8am - once the six people have picked up a call, the seventh caller will queue.

On average, said staff, there are 120 calls made to the surgery between 8am and 9am and therefore there would always be patients queuing, the problem being added to by not having many appointments to offer on the day. This is due to many reasons which the surgery partnership have been discussing.

Extra opening times will also be considered after it was raised. Lunchtimes will be discussed with the partners but in terms of appointments before 8am, this had been done when the practice provided extra hours but stopped due to high levels of “did not attends”.

TPPG chairman Tony Greenwood said: “The PPG would like to thank the medical centre staff for their help in administering the questionnaire. The results are very interesting and we hope we are able to move on in the areas of opening times, using the internet to book appointments and the pre-booking of appointments.

“Outside the area of appointments, users of the medical centre are seen to be well pleased with the delivery of services.

“Patients find it easy to see the doctor of their choice (5:1) and feel they have enough time with a medical professional and that they are treated well.

“The main finding in the view of the PPG is that 80 per cent of patients are satisfield with the care they receive. Whilst there are areas where we will work together to improve services, we think this questionnaire has shown a clean bill of health.”