Here’s What We’re Doing to Improve Our Phone Waiting Times

Posted by: hannahweaver - Posted on:

Here at the Grange we take patient feedback seriously and want to provide the best patient experience possible. This includes being able to access the surgery and being able to get through easily on the phones. Phone waiting times are an issue that many GP surgeries struggle with, and something that we are continually working to improve.

This is what we have done so far, with the most recent updates at the top:


Phone waiting times are being monitored closely and average waiting times are shared twice daily with all staff members for transparency.

Here’s how we’re doing now compared to this time last year:

Please note that percentage of calls answered relates to how many calls are picked up without the caller hanging up and deciding to try again or call back later, or try to contact the practice in a different way.

 Number of Calls Taken% Calls answeredAverage phone wait time
May 20217440608 min 40
May 20227484765 min 29
 Number of Calls Taken% Calls answeredAverage phone wait time
June 20216528589 min 17
June 20226775726 min 28

This year, we have also shortened our introductory phone message to reduce the amount of time our patients wait to get through to us. The original message was over 1 minute long whilst the current message is 30 seconds.

We have also continued to recruit more admin team members to act as a buffer and reduce the impact of staff sickness and holidays on staffing levels and therefore phone wait times.

Call waiting times are also monitored continually throughout the day so that we can pull staff from other tasks onto the phones during busy phone times.


Patient feedback about queue messaging was taken on board, so the number of queue position updates were increased from ‘you are more than 5 in the queue’ up to ‘you are more than 10 in the queue’.

Phone settings were changed so that the calls automatically try to come through to all phones at once, rather than each incoming call bouncing around from phone to phone.

In admin meetings the admin members were asked to:
Keep their phone ringers on loud to ensure that everyone can hear when calls are coming through.
Be extra considerate when leaving their seat to ensure adequate phone cover before getting up to make a drink etc.

Senior members of secretarial and management staff were required to answer calls every day at busiest times, especially between 8:30 and 11am.


The new phone system was installed. This meant that patients no longer got a busy tone when dialing the practice, and could be updated as to where they are in the phone queue.

In March, the COVID Pandemic hit and the practice tried its best to keep the phones adequately staffed despite having waves of staff off needing to isolate. Staff were set up with an app to be able to make and answer calls on the practice phone line from home if needed when they were isolating. This was to ensure that covid isolation had the smallest impact possible on phone waiting times.


Poor phone access was reported on the GP Patient Survey in mid 2019. Meetings with the phone provider did not result in an appropriate solution. The practice paid out the remainder of the existing phone contract and paid for a new state-of-the-art phone system with unlimited incoming phone lines and a queuing system.