Commonly asked Questions about booking an appointment

What do I do if I don’t receive a call or an appointment following completing the triage

Once you send the triage through you will receive a response that states that you will hear something within 48 hours. If this is not the case, you must please contact the surgery as errors can sometimes happen with system glitches despite our best efforts.    

How do people who cannot use technology deal with this?

For those patients who are not technical our reception team will complete the form fully on their behalf, so that the request is dealt with in turn, and is not disadvantaged against those that come in online.  The clinician or reception will then call the patient within 48 hours once triaged to either offer an appointment, advise a plan, or refer them to an alternative service.  Please tell us if you do not have a mobile phone, or have difficulty receiving or reading a text, or can not use the internet on your phone. We will record this in your notes. 

Why can’t I just ring at 8 and get an appointment? 

The old system of ringing at 8am meant people were offered the limited number of appointments available on a first come first served basis. This system means that patients are triaged on their symptoms and prioritised based on clinical need, and we are now serving approximately 10 times as many people each day.   

Why am I being referred to other services when I ask for an appointment

That is the purpose of triaging patients so that we can ensure that the patient is seen by the most appropriate clinician within the right service this can include the walk-in centre, urgent care service, A&E or the pharmacy first scheme. Although we are dealing with greatly increased numbers of patients daily, we do not have unlimited appointments, and our clinicians need to have limits on their workload in order to work safely and effectively in line with BMA guidance. NHS England has funded a number of schemes outside of primary care, to help with this situation, such as the Pharmacy First scheme, whereby pharmacists can treat common conditions, including prescriptions such as antibiotics for some common conditions like urinary tract infections, sinusitis, sore throat, ear infections, shingles and infected insect bites. 

Why did I have to visit another site when my closest site is in walking distance?

Although we do try to avoid this happening, if the clinician feels you need to be seen as soon as possible they will ask you to attend the site that has an appointment at the earliest opportunity.  It could also be that the clinician at a different site has a speciality in your condition meaning it is more appropriate.  

Is this an automated system or one run by people?

So do we but this system enables our staff to be able to assess and communicate faster. Please feel reassured that it is still our own staff that are triaging and replying to you.  

What if I find it hard to explain my symptoms thoroughly?

We appreciate this can be difficult, but as long as you give an overall picture of your symptoms this will then allow the clinician to determine what they think is the most appropriate course of action.  If the clinician does not have a good enough idea of what you are describing, they can either send a further message asking you to clarify or will arrange another way to finding out more information. 

I’ve been sent a link but there were no appointments available at my local surgery

All the links sent cover all of the surgeries. The software does not allow you to see only one surgery.  Some of our patients want to travel if it means they can be seen sooner.  The software is developing all the time, and this would be a very good development we agree. 

I missed the call and don’t know who to call back?

If you missed the call from the clinician or reception you always need to please contact the surgery so we can contact the person who has rung, you. 

What if I want to see the same clinician?  

We are working hard on continuity within the practice. All our clinicians have their own continuity slots meaning that if you have been seeing a particular clinician about your problem, they can either book the appointment with you or by them sending you one of their booking links.  If continuity is important to you, please let reception know that you would like a continuity clinician, and who that would be. We will consider this for you. If your condition is not urgent, then please consider waiting a few extra days to keep continuity with the clinician you have been seeing, if they are not immediately available. Clinicians also like continuity with their patients, it builds better relationships, improves care, and is more efficient. 

How can I use the system for my ongoing health condition?

If you have an ongoing health condition that is being dealt with by a particular clinician, you can request on the form who you would like to speak to, and we recommend this as if that clinician is available, they know you and your conditions.  The staff who allocate the triage lists do look if a patient has been dealing with someone in particular. 

What if I think I need to be seen more urgently than the appointment that has been given to me? 

If you feel that we have not understood your problem, or its severity, or things have got worse since the appointment was made, it is important that you get back in touch with us. It may be that we need to reprioritise your problem. However, if we are at capacity with appointments, you may need to be signposted to another service for help that can see you. If you are not able to contact us for any reason, please ring 111 who can also assess and prioritise your symptoms. Other options are the walk-in centres, and for serious medical problems and any other condition you worry may be life threatening please call 999 or attend Accident and Emergency directly. 

When to call 999 – NHS (  

What if I need help with my mental health? 

The NHS talking therapies service for anxiety and depression can be contacted directly by patients on 01695 684177  or alternatively you can self-refer using the website: What happens next – Find an NHS talking therapies service – NHS (

The mental health Initial Response Service is available 24 hours a day to help in a crisis and can be contacted directly on 0800 013 0708. Anyone who is seriously worried about their own, or someone else’s mental health, if lacking in hope or having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self harm can ring this number  to access urgent mental health advice. If a person is at risk of immediate harm, please ring 999. 

Do I have to ring at 8am to submit a request?  

The link for the requests is on the app, our website and if you have previously been text the link it is exactly the same so once you have it you don’t need to recall.  The link will not allow a submission outside our working hours for the requests, or when we have accepted the maximum number of requests we can deal with that day. This is a safety feature, as the requests are not manned when we are closed.  If you are concerned about your health out of hours, please ring 111 or attend the walk-in centres or accident and emergency if required.  

Why have I had to wait for an appointment after sending in my request? 

Your request will be prioritised according to the clinical need. Every day we have appointments for patients to be seen the same day, within a few days, and more routinely.  Routine appointments may be two to three weeks ahead. The clinician will specify which timeframe you need to be seen in. All our clinicians are working hard, seeing as many patients as they can, as well as several each day reading all the requests and dealing with their administrative work and home visits. There are BMA guidelines on how many patients a clinician can safely see each day, and we are trying to safely balance the numbers of patients needing to be seen, and the wellbeing of our staff on a daily basis.