Clayton Medical Centre is based in Clayton Le Moors, Lancashire. The practice is part of a national pilot for the digitisation of medical records to make better use of the space currently taken up by paper records and to enable clinical staff to access records more quickly.

The Challenge

Melanie Crabtree, Practice Manager at Clayton Medical Centre, points out that the practice “had terrible problems with the previous system. Every Monday morning there were too many calls for it to handle, so it fell over every Monday morning without fail.”

The legacy system at Clayton Medical Centre did not have the capacity to cope with all the staff logging on, nor the influx of patient calls on a Monday morning, usually the busiest time for reception.

The Solution

Surgery Connect’s unlimited capacity ensures practices never miss a call – patients can be queued and offered a callback if they would prefer not to wait, and clinicians and staff can always ‘get a line’ out of the practice – there is no limit to the number of ‘lines’. The NHS ‘plan for patients’ includes a push to get practices off outdated legacy systems – a box in the corner – on to modern flexible cloud based systems, which include features legacy systems are simply unable to provide. Currently deployed into more than 2,400 practices, Surgery Connect is the UK’s premier cloud-based GP Telephony system.

Call Recording

Securely stored encrypted call recordings are accessible and attached to each patient record. Melanie feels that “it’s good that each user can listen back to their calls. We’ve had one issue where a patient said that somebody was rude to them, and when that person listened back to their call, they wondered ‘Oh, how did that come across? What could I have said differently?'”

Additionally, “it’s helping in a training sense.” More specifically, Melanie recalls “an occasion where a receptionist booked an appointment, but by the time they came off the telephone they’d forgotten what appointment they’d given, so they listened back to the recording to check.”

EMIS Clinical System

Surgery Connect integrates with Clayton Medical Centre’s EMIS system allowing easy contact with the patient via the EMIS patient record, with call recordings linked. The EMIS integration advises reception who is calling.

Installation and Training

Melanie was pleased with the implementation process: “I was on annual leave when X-on came to do the hardware installation, so when I came back, everything was done. My senior receptionist had overseen everything, and she said she didn’t actually need to do anything. The guys just went round, did what they needed to do. Everything went smoothly from her point of view. Then we had training together, myself and the two seniors, before it was then rolled out to the reception and admin team. But in the meantime, whilst they were waiting for the training, they were all so excited to get to the new system that they went online and watched the videos anyway.”


Call receiving groups can be set up so multiple staff are made available to take a call, with the groups reflecting the needs of the patients calling in. Logging in and out of groups can be done via the online interface; “For example, the nurses are all in a results group.”

Buttons on the handsets can also be configured for desktop access to logging in and out of groups. Different ringtones can be assigned to each group making it easier to know which group is being called in shared office space; “useful for where we’ve got the three people all in the same room, if they have a different ring tone so that they know it’s their telephone that’s ringing. Otherwise, everybody goes running if somebody’s forgotten to put ‘do not disturb’ on while they’ve gone to the kitchen to make tea.”


“It’s good for me to be able to see the call volumes and when those calls are coming in. People can jump on and help their colleagues. It’s just making everything that little bit less stressful for everybody.

“We’ve contacted the help line, and they’ve acted very quickly to help us to resolve things.

“We’re getting some good feedback from our patients.

“It is good. It’s working well for us.”

Melanie Crabtree, Practice Manager, Clayton Medical Centre,