Norwich doctors pledge to improve services

Dan GrimmerBosses from a Norwich GP surgery said they are attempting to improve services after complaints some people were unable to get appointments.Dan Grimmer

Bosses from a Norwich GP surgery said they are attempting to improve services after complaints some people were unable to get appointments.

Several patients contacted the Evening News because they were concerned about not being able to see a doctor at East Norwich Medical Partnership, which is based in Sprowston and Thorpe St Andrew.

One woman, who did not want to be named, said she faced a three-week wait to get an appointment for her sick five-year-old daughter.

Another said she spent 45 minutes on the phone each morning for a week to book an appointment but was unable to get through so was forced to turn up at the surgery.

There were reports of patients queuing 'out of the door' this week just to book an appointment, because they couldn't get through on the phone.

One patient said: 'The surgery is absolutely full to the brim. It is really hard to get through to make an appointment and once you do there are hardly any appointments available.'

Most Read

Doctor Gordon Bastable admitted the surgery had seen an increase in demand in recent months and said they were exploring alternative ways to operate the telephone system.

The East Norwich Medical Partnership was formed in July 2009 from the former Willow Wood Surgery at Aslake Close in Sprowston, and the Sprowston-Thorpe Medical Partnership based in both St. William's Way, Thorpe St. Andrew and Aslake Close in Sprowston.

There are now about 16,000 patients who attend both practices with 10 partners/doctors currently working and one on maternity leave.

Dr Bastable said: 'Though we expect to experience some peaks and troughs of demand over the course of the year, with this time of year generally being a busy one for us, we have noted a marked increase in demand in recent months.

'Our staffing levels are always under review and we are always looking for ways to improve the service we provide. We are currently looking into taking on an additional nurse practitioner to work at our Sprowston surgery.'

'We had a new phone system installed in August last year. Unfortunately we have had some problems with this and have been working with the suppliers to rectify these to offer the best possible service to our patients.'

He said as part of ongoing changes they have recently introduced a queuing system which means if a patient doesn't get straight through to an operator they will hear a recorded message advising them they are in a queue and that their call will be answered as soon as possible.

Calls are then answered in order of being received by the system.

Dr Bastable added: 'We are exploring alternative methods of operating our telephone services and are investigating the possibility of having all the calls for both surgeries dealt with at one location, with a dedicated team of staff, rather than the current system of the receptionists answering the phone.

'We believe this will offer a better service to patients both telephoning and calling at the counter.'

Do you have a health story for the Evening News? Call Sarah Hall on 01603 772426 or email