We are aware there are significant problems getting through to us on the phone. We are sorry this is the case and would like to explain a little about why that is and what we are doing to try to improve the situation. We made a major increase to our number of phonelines earlier this year but the caller experience is clearly unsatisfactory so we are actively looking at new telecoms providers to find the best solution. This is the current number one priority for the practice management team.

It’s useful to remember our receptionists on the front line are working flat out whilst you might be waiting to get through. We have more members of staff answering phones than ever before. They see both the best and the worst of us all. They work incredibly hard to help patients navigate the system, but may not be able to offer you exactly what you want at all times. Most of our patients are courteous to our staff, as they appreciate they want to find the best solution as much as you do. 

There are other things that are challenging us:

1. There has been an unprecedented post-lockdown increase in demand. Part of this is because many of our patients have been managing health issues themselves rather than contacting their doctor over the last year and some hospital procedures and appointments have been delayed.

2. We have been heavily involved in delivering the country’s largest ever vaccination campaign.

3. We have had to change the way we work to keep things safe for our patients and our staff.

What can you do to help?

  • Can the pharmacy help you manage your symptoms? We are seeing a significant increase in patients telephoning the surgery with minor ailments, some of which have only been present for a very short amount of time. If you have symptoms you are concerned about, please always start by using 111.nhs.uk; alternatively call 111.
  • Download the NHS app. You can use this to book and cancel appointments and order repeat prescriptions.
  • Make use of the Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC) at Sevenoaks Hospital. Did you know that Sevenoaks Hospital Urgent Treatment Center is open from 8am to 8pm, 365 days a year? You can get SAME DAY APPOINTMENT at the centre by phoning 111 who can direct you to the correct service. The centre is staffed by GPs and Nurses who will treat you for urgent ailments in addition to minor injuries. You can of course still walk in but in this case you may have to wait a while.
  • When appropriate, request a pre-bookable appointment rather than call at 8 for a book on the day one. Whilst we release some same day appointments every morning, we have pre-bookable appointments available for patients: these are appropriate for a significant number of cases and the waits for these at HTMG compare very favourably with most practices.

Having delivered Tonbridge's initial Covid-19 Vaccination programme from the winter of 2020 to this summer, all of the Tonbridge GP practices are now focusing on meeting their patients' other health needs over autumn and winter. Consequently, HTMG is not involved in the invitation, booking and administration of any further Covid-19 vaccinations; Kent and Medway CCG have made provisions for this elsewhere in our locality. FOR ANYTHING REGARDING A COVID-19 VACCINE, PLEASE CALL 119 or book online at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/

Published: Oct 18, 2021