Biggleswade GP surgery under fire as couple make nearly 300 calls before getting through

Biggleswade’s Ivel Medical Centre has come under fire from patients who claim it is “near impossible” to phone the surgery.

By Jo Gravett
Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 2:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th April 2022, 3:49 pm

Paul Gibbins and his wife told the Chronicle that they tried to phone a whopping 280 times in total before they were able to speak to someone.

And the couple feels that there are not enough doctor’s appointments available for the town’s growing population, saying the next available online booking “isn’t until May 18”.

The Bedfordshire Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group said that a new phone system is being installed to help improve the situation.

Ivel Medical Centre. Image: Google.

Paul, 50, said: “I tried 80 times from 8am (when lines open) and at least 60 of those I didn't even get a ringtone.

"Eventually I had to stop as I had to work, while my wife called over 200 times another day, starting from 8am, to finally get through at 8.45am, only to be told there were no appointments left for today and a prescription was not possible.

"She then asked to speak to the practice manager to complain about this, and lo and behold she can now collect a prescription from 1pm today.

“Now neither of the calls that my wife and I made were about life-threatening conditions, but what chance do the older generation have or single parents if they have a sick child if they need to speak to somebody?”

Paul said that if you are given a telephone appointment “you are not told exactly when the doctor will ring”, and said if you work during the day it can mean that you are unable to take the call.

He also claimed he tried to visit the reception over lunchtime, but says the centre was closed to anyone who didn’t have an appointment.

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Paul added: “There is a huge amount of dissatisfaction with the surgery and it's about time they heard about it.

"Just take a look at its Google Reviews – only 1.8!”

A spokesman for the CCG said: “We recognise the frustrations that some patients are experiencing in contacting their surgery at this time. Demand for primary care services has increased significantly across the country in the last year, as we have emerged from the pandemic and more people are looking to access care.

“Ivel Medical Centre is working closely with the CCG to address concerns that it has with its current telephony system, which has limited capacity to handle the current call volumes.

“The practice team is working as hard as they can to continue to provide a high level of care and has recruited three new clinical positions including an emergency care practitioner, a nurse and a clinical pharmacist to increase the number of appointments available.

Patients will be offered an appointment with the most appropriate member of the primary care team based on their need, so that the practice can provide as many appointments as possible, this will not always be with a GP.

“Since the pandemic, across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes we are seeing a number of patients who could self-care at home and so we are asking patients to consider if their condition could be treated with self-care at home or by visiting a local pharmacist first.”

What’s your experience with your surgery? Email [email protected]