Woman claims Leeds GP practice failed to answer her calls for almost three hours
A woman said she spent almost three hours on the phone to a Leeds medical centre trying and failing to get through and speak to someone about an elderly relative.
Viv Avison said she thinks it is "appalling" that patients and their relatives are having problems contacting Fountain Medical Centre at Morley.
Mrs Avison, who needed to speak to someone about the care of a family member who has dementia, said she repeatedly telephoned the surgery between 9.15am and 12pm on Monday April 19.
She said the number was engaged on 17 occasions and she got through three times, but was put on hold and waited in vain for 45 minutes, 28 minutes and 25 minutes.
Mrs Avison said she then had to give up trying because she was at work.
Mrs Avison said the telephone number is the only way of contacting the surgery as there is no email address listed on the medical centres website.
She said she contacted NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group to complain and was told to contact the practice manager by phone, which she refused to do after her previous experience.
Mrs Avison was then advised to lodge a complaint with NHS England, which she has done.
She said: "I think it's absolutely appalling. I'm a fit and healthy working adult.
"Anybody that is vulnerable or mentally impaired is going to struggle with the system they have got.
"This is the only way to contact them and they are not answering the phone.
"I just want them to change their system so vulnerable people can access healthcare because I feel they are being excluded."
There are a number of recent negative Google reviews about the telephone system at the medical centre.
One reviewer wrote on Google reviews: "This is the worst Doctors surgery I've ever had to use.
"Cannot get through on phone, tried to get an appointment for three days straight now and I've been on hold for an hour, got to 2nd in the queue for it to boot me out...when you do eventually get through you're told there's no appointments."
Another wrote: "Absolutely shocking. Be prepared to die of whatever ailment you have whilst waiting for someone to answer the phone."
The partners at Fountain Medical Centre said: "We’re very sorry that Mrs Avison experienced difficulties trying to contact the surgery.
"We will get in touch with her directly and ask a phone engineer to investigate what went wrong.
"The practice currently receives between 450 and 700 calls per day.
"Since the start of the year, our phone lines have been busier than ever as we deliver the Covid vaccination programme, but all the reception team are working extremely hard to answer all calls as soon as they can.
"For the past 12 months we have been working with our current telephone provider to find ways to improve the system for patients.
"This has not been possible, unfortunately, so we are moving to a new telephone system in June, which should make it easier for patients to get through.
"As well as contacting us by phone, patients can also contact us or book appointments via the e-consult app on our website.
"We are also currently updating our website and adding more ways for patients to access the surgery via this route. These will be introduced over the coming months.
"The surgery is open from 7am to 6:30pm and appointments are available throughout the day.
"Initial consultations may be by phone or video but we also see patients at the practice every day.
"We offer protected appointments in all clinical surgeries for vulnerable patients, under 5s and those over 75.
"We appreciate how frustrating it is not to be able to get through to us straight away.
"We would like to reassure patients that we are doing all we can to address this.
"We encourage feedback from all our patients with the aim of improving the level of care that they receive at the practice."