A new system is being adopted by a busy medical group to try to speed up access to doctors.
Across the country hospitals are reporting an increase in patients attending emergency departments because they are unable to get an appointment with their GP.
Now Northumberland practice Wellway Medical is seeking to address the problem by radically changing its appointment system.
Instead of patients simply booking an appointment over the phone, the receptionist will take their details, including a brief reason for the call, and later that day a doctor will ring them back to discuss their concerns.
Health advice can then be given over the phone, but if needed, an appointment can be made for the patient to attend the surgery, usually on the same day.
Senior GP Partner Dr Chris Marr, who has worked at the practice for 25 years, said: “Our patients have told us they sometimes find it difficult trying to get the appointment they need with a doctor when they need it.
“We looked at the demand for appointments, the number of patients who don’t attend appointments made in advance, and how we could improve access to a doctor.
“By having doctors available to talk to our patients first and assess their needs, we will be dealing with the patients who need our help on the day, potentially saving them a journey to the surgery and ensuring our patients get an appointment which matches their needs.”
The Doctor First system has already been adopted by more than 70 practices nationwide. It will be introduced by Wellway Medical in its Morpeth, Pegswood, Lynemouth and Newbiggin surgeries on Monday, June 16.
For details, visit www.well way.co.uk