Key alterations have been made to the GHA’s telephone systems in order to streamline the calls process.

This means that in the coming weeks, the public can expect changes to the way in which they interact with the Primary Care Centre appointment line.

The Primary Care Centre phone system will be simplified to a single point-of-contact for all enquiries, including appointments, repeat prescriptions, registration and the Children’s Health Centre. Individuals will be provided with automated options and their call will be re-directed accordingly.

'The work to improve the telephone service across the GHA has included a crucial upgrade to the system hardware, which will provide a more reliable service, increases to both call handling efficiency and capacity (how the system handles and processes the calls), and new functionalities including the ability to cancel appointments.'

Work is also ongoing to review the call-flow process, with the aim of enhancing patient experience by streamlining calls to help direct patients to the right service. This, in turn, will reduce the patients’ waiting times in the queue and thereby provide the GHA with a more efficient way of working.

The Director General, Dr Patrick Geoghegan, said: ‘It is essential that Primary Care services are quickly and easily accessible to patients. A key aspect of this is how patients make initial contact, which is usually by calling for an appointment. By streamlining the process, patients will be able to directly access the right service, which in turn will reduce overall call waiting times. Patients will also have the option to easily cancel an appointment that they will not be able to attend, for whatever reason, allowing the GHA to make the most of the appointment slots that are available. This will be an ongoing process of work that, over time, aims to improve telephone services across the GHA.