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All GP surgeries in England to have digital phone lines by March 2024

Patients at all general practices across England will soon benefit from new digital phone lines designed to make booking GP appointments easier.

Backed by a £240 million investment, more than 1,000 practices have signed up to make the switch from analogue systems - which can leave patients on hold and struggling to book an appointment - to modern, easy-to-use digital telephones designed to make sure people can receive the care they need when they need it.

It is expected every practice in the country will have the new system in place by the end of this financial year, helping put an end to the 8am rush - a key pillar of the Prime Minister’s primary care recovery plan to improve patient access to care.

Patients will be able to contact their general practice more easily and quickly - and find out exactly how their request will be handled on the day they call, rather than being told to call back later, as the government and NHS England deliver on the promises made in the primary care recovery plan announced in May. If their need is urgent, they will be assessed and given appointments on the same day. If it is not urgent, appointments should be offered within 2 weeks, or patients will be referred to NHS 111 or a local pharmacy.

The upgraded system will bring an end to the engaged tone, see care navigators direct calls to the right professional, and the use of online systems will provide more options and help those who prefer to call to get through.

Read press release

Source: Department of Health and Social Care, 18 August 2023


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