A number of patients from VMC had gone to the ratings and reviews page of the surgery to voice their worries over long wait times on the phone and the implications it may have.
In a newsletters sent to VMC patients on Wednesday, May 5 the surgery announced they would be using a new telephone number.
The newsletter said, “This telephone number represents the next piece in the full merger of the processes prior to entry in to the new clinic and is for all patients to use instead of the number previously in place for the individual practices.
“The new telephone number system enables calls to this number to be answered by the receptionists across all three sites.
“They also have access to medical records for all patients registered across the three sites so will be able to answer any query or re-direct your call as necessary.”
Patients have been told if they are first in a queue of 11 they will be asked to hang on and their call will be taken as soon as possible in the order it was registered on the system.
If the patients places further back than 11th then they will be given a position in the queue and will be told each time that position reduces.
The newsletter said, “We appreciate this will feel very different, and also that more than 11 in any telephone queue may seem as if it will take an eternity for your call to be taken.
“On this point we would simply ask you to hang on and see how quickly the numbers go down - and clearly, as we all become more familiar with the new number etc, so the whole process will speed up.”
In regards to phone waiting times, a VMC patient said they were told part of the problem had been caused by patients in Hailsham and Bexhill who had been directed to call the surgery to book their vaccine.
In response to this a spokesperson for the Sussex Covid Vaccination Programme said, “Victoria Medical Centre has worked incredibly hard to roll out the Covid vaccination to its registered patients, and support the wider programme.
“As we offered the vaccine to those in the first four priority groups, the local vaccination service at The Beacon also offered additional clinics for patients in Hailsham to provide more opportunities for people in that area to receive their vaccination.
“These patients are now due their second doses to maximise their protection from these vaccines, and as people are expected to return to the place where they received their first dose, Victoria Medical Centre – in line with GPs across the area – had seen calls from patients in Hailsham about their second appointment.
“We urge everyone not to call GP practices about their second dose appointment. Local vaccination services are contacting people to arrange these appointments up to 11-12 weeks from the first vaccine in line with vaccine supply for these appointments.
“Generally, all GP practices are seeing increases in calls and demand on their phone systems and we are working with them to ensure patients get the care and support they need.”
To read about the issue of Eastbourne patients struggling to make GP appointments click here.