Waterfield Practice

Advanced Telephony


Difficulties in getting through to primary care services via telephone are a widely reported problem across the country. NHS England South East commissioned Redmoor Health to support PCNs and Practices in their region to optimise the use of their chosen telephony systems, for the benefit of their regional patient population. The PCNs and practices were all at different stages in their journey, with some having had products in place for a long time, compared to others who were only just getting set up.

Waterfield Surgery, which is based over two sites, had received feedback from their patients via their 2023 GP Survey which highlighted some dissatisfaction from patients about getting through to the practices on the telephone, call wait times were high and many calls were being abandoned. Waterfield Surgery was committed to replacing their existing phone system at the practice with Surgery Connect, which was being used in their wider GP Federation, and as a result, there was an opportunity to access more data from the new system, and therefore interrogate their processes as a result of accessing this data.


Staff at Thames Avenue Surgery which has 5,990 patients, had not had much training on the telephony system when they first started using it. As a result, the call-back feature wasn’t switched on or configured and they were also having trouble downloading and understanding their call data. The issues with their phones were resulting in patients making complaints to GPs such as:

  • Patients being cut off when they get to number one in the queue
  • The length of wait times
  • Patients getting caught in the queue even if the phones were off

The GP practice was also unable to see their call data distributed in days and was unable to identify staff through their ID in the data.


Redmoor Health was asked to help Waterfield Surgery understand how they can use this data to make relevant changes and improve their processes such as call flows, call queuing and callbacks to support access and demand. Redmoor Health’s programme management and coordination included:

  • Development and delivery of webinars
  • 1:1 sessions with the PCNs and GP practices
  • Training sessions on understanding data, and process mapping
  • ‘Cheat sheets’ for staff to assist with best use of telephone systems
  • Reviewed telephone data and call flows


The new Surgery Connect system meant that all staff could easily access their call data, which has allowed them to see their peak call times across their sites and train and flex their staff accordingly, for example, they have now trained other staff that can be drafted in from other roles to assist with call answering when needed, which helps increase the number of calls answered and reduce the call waiting time for patients.

There are also technical functions that they have been able to implement with the new system, such as improved call options which direct patients to the correct departments to handle their query in the first instance and call back options for patients, where they don’t have to wait in the call queue and instead will receive a callback.

Waterfield Surgery staff have also been trained to assist patients in learning about and using other means to contact the surgery, such as via their online clinic triage form where patients can fill in their symptoms on the form online, or via the NHS App, which has reduced the number of incoming calls overall, freeing up the lines for those who need telephone access.


The impact of this work has been considerable already and the Waterfield Surgery expects this improvement to continue. Overall call volumes have reduced as patients make use of the other access routes available to them. As a result, call wait times have reduced and the GP practices’ number of abandoned calls has dropped dramatically.

Looking to the future, the practice knows that they will be able to look into the reasons people are calling and provide other suitable options that don’t require patients to call in, such as providing information on how they can check their appointment times and request repeat medications using the NHS App or online.

Julie, the practice manager at Waterfield Surgery said:
“As a result of the improvements we have made, hopefully our GP survey next year will look a lot better than it did this year. We implemented the new phone system quite quickly and I think this will result in a significant improvement in the survey too.”

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