Chloe Smith
MP for Norwich North

Investing in the Future of Healthcare: getting through to your surgery on the phone

Author: Chloe Smith, Updated: 25 August 2023 16:10

As your Member of Parliament for Norwich North, I know how important it is to be able to get a doctor’s appointment when you need it, and that’s why the NHS has always been a top priority in my constituency work. 


I am thrilled to share some exciting news highlighting the government's dedication to modernizing and enhancing our primary care services. 


Over 1,000 general practices across England are set to undergo a transformational upgrade, backed by an impressive £240 million investment. This substantial commitment aims to bring our primary care services into the digital age, ensuring you can get the care you need when needed. 


Gone will be the days of engaged tones and long waits on the phone when trying to book a GP appointment. With this investment, patients will benefit from new digital phone lines that streamline the appointment booking process. The government aims to eliminate the morning appointment rush by the end of the financial year, ending the 8am scramble for availability. 


The new digital system will make appointment booking more efficient and improve the quality of care you receive. Patients will be given more straightforward information on how their requests will be handled on the same day they call. Urgent needs will be promptly assessed and addressed, while non-urgent appointments will be offered within two weeks. This initiative is part of a comprehensive plan to enhance patient access and reduce waiting times, a key promise made by the Prime Minister. 


Furthermore, this investment extends beyond just upgrading phone systems. The government recognizes the value of our skilled healthcare professionals and aims to make the best use of their expertise 


Consultations will soon be launched to enable pharmacy technicians to take on more responsibilities, ensuring pharmacists can provide more clinical services. Similarly, dental hygienists and therapists will be better supported to offer additional care to patients, reducing unnecessary delays in dental services. 


As Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay emphasized, "We are delivering on our promises to make access to GP appointments easier while boosting staffing numbers." This commitment to improving patient access and utilizing our healthcare workforce more effectively is central to ensuring the continued success of our NHS. In fact, I’ve just seen figures showing that there are 50% more healthcare staff in our constituency alone in the last three years.


Now, I want to see practices in north Norwich take on trialling the new telephone technology so that patients here can get the full benefits.