ADDITIONAL administrative staff have been employed at Banbridge Group Surgery to help alleviate patients' waiting time when telephoning for appointments.
On Monday, 15 March alone, Banbridge Group Surgery received nearly 10,000 calls, with the majority of these phone-calls relating to Covid-19 vaccinations.
The surgery, just like other GP practices throughout Northern Ireland, has faced extreme demand and pressure, with GPs doubling on their workload as they work in Covid centres as well.
In a statement to the Outlook, Practice Manager, Emma McAlister said: “We have experienced a dramatic increase in the number of telephone calls within the surgery over the past number of weeks, with us reaching almost 10,000 calls on Monday alone.
“In response to this increase we have employed additional staff to cope with the demand and this will hopefully help reduce the queues to get through to one of our team.
“We have been running Covid vaccination clinics alongside our normal services from January, with GPs also working in Covid centres, which has been very challenging and has added additional pressures to the service.
“As of last week, we have administered approximately 1,800 Covid vaccinations and are now actively contacting those patients in the 55-60 age group to attend for their vaccine.
And Emma asked patients of the surgery to wait to be contacted about their vaccination, rather than phoning into the surgery to make such enquiries.
“We would appeal to patients not to contact the surgery, about when they will be called for their vaccinations, as this will depend on the supply of vaccine being distributed by the Health and Social Care Board," she said.
“We will contact patients when they are eligible.
“We would also like to remind patients of our zero tolerance policy when telephoning the surgery.
“Our staff have been trained to ask questions when patients call the surgery, in order to direct them to the most appropriate person to deal with their query.
“Our staff work extremely hard, under very difficult circumstances and do not deserve to be subjected to abuse.”
Anyone aged between 50 and 79 can now book their Covid-19 vaccine online at https://.vaccinations.covid-19.hscni.net/booking.