Your surgery's booking system? - Asthma UK communi...

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Your surgery's booking system?


How easy is it for you to get an appointment or telephone appointment at your GP surgery? What do you have to do to get one?

At mine, it is easy to request a repeat prescription through my pharmacy but non-repeats I need to speak to a GP/nurse practitioner.

But they have no pre-bookable telephone appointments, and to get a same-day telephone appointment you have to call then at 8am, and keep calling until you get through. If by the time you get through 2.5 hours and 84 attempts later, there are no calls left, you have to ring back the following day.

They also have an e-Consult system where you can fill out an online form and they will either call or text you back within the next 2 days. But it's very basic and if you haven't got any of the problems listed (eg. meds side effects), it won't let you complete the form without lying - and there is nowhere to say where you've had to lie. If you select breathing problems, it instantly goes red and tells you to call the surgery - who haven't got any calls left... Also they have the option of texting you instead of calling, so if you have asked questions, a text merely saying they've sent a script to the pharmacy but not addressing any questions is unhelpful.

If you do get through, the call could be any time up to 6:30pm so you can't do anything noisy like vacuuming, or take your phone down the garden where the reception is bad, in case you miss the call.

How does it work at your surgery?

46 Replies

That sounds super annoying, I live in a small town so its not too bad, not got the best surgery in the world but not the worst I imagine either.

If I want to speak to the doctor here I have to phone up at 8 on the dot aswell and I usually have pretty good luck if I'm obsessive about ringing right when it turns 8. For prescriptions its quite easy as they have online prescription request system that goes straight to the pharmacy. The only thing that has bugged me lately is the long time to wait for blood tests, I had to wait two weeks for one and then I was ill with my fibromyalgia so couldn't go when it came around and had to wait 2 weeks again for another appointment. I know they are all struggling with the covid situation at the moment so I try not to get too annoyed with them. Just glad I don't have much of a reason to need them at the moment.

AirIsUnderrated in reply to Owll

Yes, they're inundated, and they can only see half as many patients because of the extra PPE and cleaning required in between patients. It's horrid for them, and horrid for us.

Owll in reply to AirIsUnderrated

Something needs to change but I don't know what, I saw yesterday in passing that the NHS wrote the gps to tell them they have to start seeing more people. Wonder how that will go down.

AirIsUnderrated in reply to Owll

I saw that too. I work in a GPs' surgery. For a clinician to see a patient f2f, they have to put on full PPE and clean the whole room between patients. That means it takes twice as long for each appointment, with the same number of doctors and rooms. It isn't possible. Our poor nurses and HCAs are run ragged. 😟

Owll in reply to AirIsUnderrated

I can imagine how stressful that is :( and it looks like its going to be around for a while.

Oldandgray in reply to Owll

My surgery are now stupid useless. Phone at 8am “ you are number 87” in the queue Hold on phone for over one hour. “ there are no appointments left, phone tomorrow “.

You get through but can’t talk as too breathless. If you can’t tell the receptionist your most intimate details you can’t even get to speak to a nurse or a doctor.

The front door of the surgery is locked and controlled entry by the receptionist.

So now I have no care at all.

Owll in reply to Oldandgray

That is ridiculous, do they have an online submission? maybe that would help them a bit. They need to change the system because its not working in this situation but I don't think they care that much.

Oldandgray in reply to Owll

There used to be a great online system but that stopped in March. Now it’s just ridiculous. They haven’t moved on. I am in one of the lowest Covid areas in the country.

Owll in reply to Oldandgray

Yeah mine have stopped the online bit now aswell. I'm not sure how my town are coping with covid but not heard it being high, I do live near a bigger town that have electronic signs at all entrances saying they are high covid so it could come here.

Ours have stopped the online appointment system now too. In defence of your surgery, it really isn't that they don't care, although it feels that way when you can't get the care you need. But they've been squeezed dry by the crisis. I'm so sorry - this is horrid for everybody.

If you're really poorly and they can't even offer you an emergency telephone call, that's where 111 comes in. They will triage you over the phone and will decide whether you need hospital or a call back from the GP. They'll send a report through to your GP, and they have to respond within a certain amount of time. Hugs to you.

alnew45 in reply to Oldandgray

This sounds like ours too! The very people meant to help us have pulled up the drawbridge! We have serious cases of phone misdiagnosis too.


At the moment we can either use their online request thing or phone on the day and the GPs work through the callback list. Reception are usually pretty good too. Actually the whole surgery is.

I'm on their special access list though so they will see me (or call atm) no matter how busy they are.

Troilus in reply to twinkly29

Our practice has the 8am system for same day appointment, but you can book for another day. That can be a wait of a week or more.

If you ring later, and say it is urgent, you will be triaged. Depending on the problem, you could be offered a same day appointment.

I have also found, that if you cannot get a same day appointment and it is urgent, you can contact 111. They can arrange a same day appointment.. I did this, and guess which surgery contacted me. Yep. My own GP.

That's right, it all goes back to your GP. 111 will triage your problem and if they regard it as urgent, they will send a report through to your GP who will add you to the urgent list which the receptionists don't have access to. If 111 don't regard your problem as urgent, they'll still tell you to keep trying the GP. 111 isn't a fast-track to an appointment, but they are trained triage, whereas the receptionists can only follow the practice's procedure.

That sounds like my Dr's surgery. Before Lockdown I would drop in so that I could talk to the receptionist and they were very helpful - unless all the appointments were gone. They only book so far ahead so once all the appointments are gone, you have to come back & try again. I found that there's too much competition if I try phoning.

I have discovered a workaround if it's really important. If you phone 111 then they will usually say see your GP tomorrow and that will bypass any blocks on available appointments. The 111 system notes your need for an appointment so when you phone the surgery they know to give an appointment. I've only used this twice, both times i had to phone 111 as it was urgent and out of hours. Something to consider if you get desperate, especially if you just can't get that appointment.

My surgery is similar to some of the above - advance booking possible, tho not even a vague time just which day, plus on the day for urgent appointments. One definite improvement for me (not an early riser) is that they release morning appointments at 8, then afternoon appointments at 2 - much more civilised!

Oh I wish ours did that too!

EmmaF91Community Ambassador

For me it’s not too bad, however I think like twinkly29 I’m flagged as special access. I have to phone up, but usually it doesn’t matter what time I call, if I need a same day appt (f2f or phone) I will get (however this is all asthma related, not sure if it would be the same for something else). Callbacks however are a situation of anytime. If I call first thing it’s usually before 1pm, but if I call after 10am, it’ll be anytime before 6.30pm-ish.

Otherwise have managed to book an appt a week ahead for something unrelated (tho that was on request of hospital) and haver used an online booking to see nurse for non-asthma but routine issue.

On the whole I have a easy access tho call backs can be irritating with the unknown-ness of time, but then I do also appreciate that it’s same day and they don’t know how long each call will take 😅

It so annoying. My surgery also uses E-Consult. It took me 10 minutes of calling before I was on 'position 5 in the queue. Then it was precisely 10 minutes to move up one space in the queue. Very stressful because I know the whole call can get timed out before you get to the top of the queue and have to start over again. I was calling for my flu jab. When i got through I realised why it was taking to long. The receptionist had to go through a form so I was also blocking the line for far too long grrrr. For normal calls ie actual health need you have to go through the E-Consult form verbally which takes an age. Initially the OGM message is extremely long but you've no choice but to listen to it before getting on to that blooming queue. Grrrrrr

Its particularly annoying because my area hasn't had too much covid to cope with. I really empathise with those patients in high covid areas!

A similar experience but if it’s urgent they’ll triage you & you might get to see someone face to face.

Like you say...the online system is a bit of a nightmare and you end up lying just to get through. And if it’s anything breathing related then it says call 111 or 999 ...aaaagghhhh

Oldandgray in reply to madonbrew

My asthma is fairly unpredictable but not as severe as many. I just need a weeks prednisolone to get me through. The trouble is getting it. I now have a rescue pack thankfully.

I am quite lucky as I can go online and book a phone appointment, usually for that day and if I book a morning one my g.p rings straightaway.

My g.p is not doing any face to face appointments, even when describing severe asthma symptoms. Its either a script over the phone or hospital, there is no in-between!

That is lucky with the online phone appts. Ours only ever did f2f appts online, and they stopped that with Covid. I've only had one f2f appt in 12? 13? since April, and that was a chest exam in full PPE with the resp nurse. After pumping me full of antibiotics, steroids and salbutamol, not surprisingly my chest was clear. Other than that it's only been phone and e-Consult.

I suppose with severe asthma, they can't add anything other than the meds from a script, or hospital who can use stronger ones than the GPs can prescribe. A f2f would reassure the patient, which is a big part of treatment in my opinion, but doesn't add anything medically. Frustrating, isn't it?

Definetly, like you say there is not much else they can do for severe asthma but I find i get my point across much better face to face!

Does your practice offer video appointments? They do where I work, in specific appointment slots with the rooms with the video equipment. It isn't advertised, but it is available. It's worth asking for.

I have been using Patient access app to book phone and f2f appointments for years with no problem

I wish ours would do that. They only ever did f2f appointments on Patient Access, never phone appointments, and they stopped even those for Covid and it hasn't been reinstated yet.

I have to phone to get an appointment you have to call then at 8am, and keep calling until you get through. This can take a hour sometimes and there not always any appointments left so you to go though it all again the next day.

But if I mention it’s about my asthma they always get a doctor to call me even if this at the end of the day. Maybe as late as 7-8 pm

Hi I had this problem getting through on the telephone what you need to do you ring the number from your mobile or landline number at 7.58am and when you ring it will say the surgery is closed well you put the phone down and ring again very quickly and you keep repeating that you will be at 1 or 2 in the que. I managed to get through at 7.59am. I found that when I rang later say anything from 8.05am and I gave up and the telephone lines were flooded with calls and you stood no chance of getting an appointment. It seems that they are only looking to call you back if your very ill so I have to emphasise how unwell I am. It’s all about getting a good dr. I have dropped on finally with a very good GP from another location who had just joined the practice. I am very unwell and he suggested I write a letter with all my symptoms so I went one further and wrote a 6 page letter giving lots of detail and I implored him to help me. If there is a very good dr at your practice write to them. Hoping that does the job for you but if not change drs and gp drs completely. I wish you all the very best. let us all know how you get on. cheers. J.

Yes, that's what I do with the phone but it can still take ages. I try not to ring on a Monday or Friday at all, so this is all on their "quiet" days. The trouble is that there are only 2 surgeries in my town of 30,000 people. I've been with the original one for 25 years, and the new one has a bad reputation.

Mine are great if I'm ill. But not if they say "here's 2 weeks of new med, then call for a review", which they have been doing through this whole game of meds-roulette since April. It isn't urgent, other than the leaflet says not to stop the medicine without talking to the GP first, and there is no way of asking whether the side effects will go or not without speaking to them.

It's all a bit haywire at the moment with Covid. It will settle down. It has to, (she says, optimistically!) soon.

I'm glad you've found a sympathetic GP that you get on well with. 👍

wow only 2 practices and the other one not even an option with a bad reputation that’s shocking no wonder you cannot an appointment anywhere. Try writing a letter. I had to put how wonderful the drs were and I appreciated their help and support but I was really struggling to get an appointment and I stated I didn’t want to burden the NHS further with the onslaught of covid I even wrote to every consultant asking to be taken off their lists and certain hospitals took me off their lists themselves without me asking and there is one final appointment which my rheumatologists which I have waited for over a year to get a response from even after calls and letter to and still got nowhere. How it takes so long to get treatment is beyond me I had to say what a great practice or hospital it was, etc It was shocking just to get heard it’s what I had to do and now as they never listen to any form of criticism it was my last attempt to get someone to help me. That and I am quite ill at the moment finally went in my favour. The problem is they are leaving it till you are at deaths door before they will do something. I was very ill and my son had to ring them I was told to go to the hospital immediately where on arrival I was fobbed off with medication that was too toxic to take and I brought myself home. I have heard all the exscuses over the years from medical staff it’s a real problem. Because the resources are not available patients are suffering there is so much failure on their part and so much injustice so that I could write a book on the subject. The problem is the population is much higher now if you look at leeds the population has tripled in the last 20 years. If you can afford to go private or if you could move house. It’s what I am wanting to do and am currently researching the best place to move to so I can get better care. Maybe we will both be luckily and find a way some how. If I can think of anything else I will let you know. Cheers. J

My GP surgery is pretty similar to what most are saying about calling at 8am. The latest I've received a call from a GP for a phone appointment was 22:30. They also have the online option yet have a variety of choices on if its for doctor, nurse, receptionist ect. Ive been told if I call and no appointments and its asthma related to say so and the duty doctor will call me, when I did that a few weeks back I got a call back within 20 minutes. All GP's I've been registered with have had the urgent duty doc appointments. Hope you manage to get sorted.

Yours sound fantastic. But the poor GPs, working till 10:30pm! Yes, ours are great with urgent illness. Really good.

The problem comes with non-urgent things like "try this new med for 2 weeks and ring back for a review". Then I'm running out and I have some side effects I want reassurance on - will they get better with time/how worrying are they? The leaflet says not to come off it without talking to the GP. It's not on repeat so I can't request more online or through the pharmacy. I can't get more without a review, which is non-urgent. It's a vicious circle.

Aaah yes I see what you mean !! I know I was really confused cos it got to 6pm that day and still hadn't heard from them so contacted reception by email thinking it would be picked up the following day and they replied saying she still there and will still call me.

Instead of speaking to GP, could you not speak to the practice pharmacist? I don't know if its standard yet when I've had issues with non urgent meds before the pharmacist dealt with it ? I know what you mean, mine are great for urgent yet non urgent can be a challenge.

Hope you manage to get sorted as its not fun being in a situation like that and whilst it may not be classed as urgent its still has the potential to be all consuming.

I hope your 10:30pm GP was on the late shift and hadn't been there since 7 that morning!

We haven't got a practice pharmacist, but when I picked up my Fostair (no call, all done via e-Consult and text message) the pharmacist said he would ring me for a review next week, so maybe he is now acting in a similar capacity. I was really impressed, and he is lovely so I'm happy.

I suspect I just have to lower/change my expectations of my GP practice. But actually my brain is whirring now. I might write to them suggesting a new e-Consult form for meds reviews, because that is falling through the cracks. Thank you!

Same here, I think she was on a late shift as they normally open till late on a Monday.

I would write to them and ask about as at the end of the day will benefit them and the patient and the more that can be done online the better especially when it comes to things like meds and reviews.

Our practice has a section when ordering meds on repeat where you can tick a box and request meds off prescription which is helpful as well as on the e-consult you can request a med review either on all meds or just a specific one so it is something that can be done if they are able to tweak the system.

Probably been mentioned already yet have you tried ringing 111 to see if you could speak to someone there just to help with the meds you struggling with now ?

We can't request non-repeats on our meds reordering system. And there is no mechanism for the old "well it's a bit better but not much and the side effects are yuck, what should I do now? Get more, change dose or try something different?" I just did some poking around on the e-Consult system and I found a meds review form. It says only to complete it if you've been told by your GP (ha!) and I suspect it's for the annual/biannual synchronisation reviews only, but I might try that. Thank you for the suggestion!

When I tried Omeprazole in July I had terrible side effects - burning, heartburn, nausea, no appetite, lost weight - but there was no way of querying it. I didn't feel it was bad enough for 111 as I was still fit to go to work. Maybe I should have done.

I got my new Fostair yesterday, and other than being very trembly and feeling a bit giggly as if I was silly-drunk last night, I haven't had any other side effects. And I can breathe. I feel great!

My surgery is just as bad however they also have the best line of defence against patients, the receptionists! I appreciate that they need to ask questions, but they have become judge and jury and there is simply no compassion when calling in. I have given up and now call 111 which i know is adding to the overload they face but at least you get to speak to someone who cares! Good luck!

Receptionists have to follow the rules set by the practice so they are seen as the barrier to healthcare, but they are doing what their bosses have told them. There should be compassion though. I'm so sorry - everybody is squeezed dry.

We have to ring up on the day put in a queue until answered then you have to wait in all day for a dr to ring back then the dr decides if you need to be seen or deal with over the phone

I desperately need to see a dr face to face but very little chanceocthat

Have you asked the doctor for a face to face? The receptionist can't make that decision, but the GP can. I waited and waited to be asked to come in for an examination and they didn't. But when I asked specifically for someone to listen to my chest, that was the only f2f appointment that I got, with the asthma nurse. She was great. But I had to ask.

Sigh! Poor you - that doesn’t sound good.

I live in a rural area and it’s not too bad. Admitted sometimes I have to keep redialling for about five minutes before I get through, but it’s not unusual for me to get through at once (depending on the day of the week and the time of day - it would be very unusual for that to happen on a Monday morning, for example). What happens then is that I get put on a list and then the decision is made (no idea by whom) as to whether I get to speak to a practitioner nurse or a doctor. That doesn’t always work out as I have ended up with the PN for a problem that I am under consultant led care for (because there are two different medical conditions which could be contributory factors) and it really was something that needed to be dealt with by a doctor. I’ve wised up to that since and if it’s something complex I will specify a GP and explain why. They will call me back. I’m never given an exact time, nor would I expect it. They cannot predict how long it’s going to take to with each patient on the list. A rough guide as in (sometime after... and before ....) is what I would expect. To be fair even when there were appointments at a given time (before Covid) I always knew that although I was down for that time there might well be a delay in me being seen.

For repeat prescriptions I go through to the dispensary (the local surgery is over six miles from the nearest pharmacy so it has an in-house dispensary) and I just request them. Anything that is not on repeat would have to go through the GP, and I believe that is fairly standard practice.

They use the App ask my Gp . When you call the Gp line it will advise you to use the App or wait to speak to a receptionist. I used App last week. You give a brief summary of your problem.. It then let's you choose the Gp of choice. Then you choose video call, e mail, telephone call or face to face if needed. Its brilliant and works so well.

That sounds like a great innovation. 👍

Here in Canada, it is pretty good. I call my GP’s office (which you can get any time of the day). You say who is calling and what the problem is to the secretary, and she gives you a time when my GO will call me back, like an appointment. Usually, when I call, he calls me within the next three hours. I don’t like to talk about things that are bothering me over the phone and not face to face...but oh well. I need to call him about not being well controlled this week.

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