Westbourne Medical Centre, based in North Ormesby, Middlesbrough, provides GP and Healthcare services, including chronic disease management and minor surgery.

The Challenge

Westbourne Medical Centre needed to solve their patient call queueing issues. Irritated patients were wasting GP time complaining about the phone service. Nagina Akhtar, Practice Manager at Westbourne Medical Centre, points out that GPs “were saying that every consultation they do, the first couple of minutes is just people complaining about the phones. They only have ten minutes, but two minutes is wasted trying to console the patient, and apologising.”

The practice also had no idea how many reception staff to engage in answering phones. “Sometimes we only had one person answering. We didn’t know how busy it was because we didn’t know what was happening in the background.”

The Solution

Surgery Connect includes sophisticated call queueing facilities, and with an unlimited number of lines available thanks to the use of cloud telephony, caller queues of any size can be efficiently managed, resulting in the best possibly patient call queueing experience. “Now we can ask admin to jump on if there’s many in the queue. All our calls get answered mostly within five minutes. Nobody waits for more than five minutes. So it’s really good, and a lot of patients have commented that they love the new system.”

As a result “even our GPs, who were saying the first couple of minutes of every consultation was just people complaining about the phones; that has stopped. So they’re happy as well.”

Surgery Connect allows the practice to efficiently handle the busy periods. As Nagina observes: “It’s mostly appointments. We don’t have queues for test results and prescriptions. We have two times that we open; we open our appointments at eight, and then we open the afternoon ones at half one. So it just goes crazy at eight o’clock, but for half an hour, and then same at half one.”

Nagina also finds it useful that they can include “a message that appointments are fully booked and please ring back tomorrow” in the call flow.

“We used to have an emergency line at lunchtime, but people used to just ring it anyway, ignoring the fact that it was intended for emergencies. Now they get the message that it’s just for emergencies. It’s saving the girls having to answer and tell them that.”


Additionally, Westbourne Medical Centre are keen to utilise the extensive Surgery Connect reporting. Monthly Management reports are emailed to all customers, with configurable and downloadable reports available via the user portal at any time. Nagina feels that statistics could be used to provide encouragement to the staff such as “‘Well done, we answered 90% within a minute'” via newsletters, for example, as well as allowing management to correctly deploy resources during busier periods.

Auto Step-in

The practice are also utilising the Auto Step-in feature which allows calls to be transferred automatically, when predefined demand parameters are reached, such as queue length or wait time. Nagina is setting it up for the practice so that “if the queue goes to ten, we can automatically set it so that admin, if they are logged in, would automatically get put into the group taking calls, and take them out when the queue reduces.”

“It’s going really well!”

“We really like the system. There’s a massive difference to us. Our patients are happier; GPs are happier.

Nagina Akhtar, Practice Manager, Westbourne Medical Centre