A NEW 24-hour telephone booking system for GP appointments is being introduced in Barnsley to improve access for over 200,000 residents.

Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has funded the scheme as part of the organisation’s drive to improve communication with patients, better patient access to GP practices and reduce the number of missed appointments.

So far, 30 of the 37 practices in the town have chosen to implement this facility for their patients.

The system, known as Patient Partner, is being installed at eight surgeries during the first phase of the project. The service will then be rolled out across 22 more surgeries by winter.

Patient Partner enables patients to book, check, cancel and rearrange an appointment 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without speaking to a receptionist.

Patients call the surgery's usual number and will be given the choice to select the Patient Partner option.

"Our aim is to ensure that we put Barnsley people first so that they receive the best healthcare service possible," said Dr Nick Balac, chair of Barnsley CCG.

"We've listened to what people have told us about their difficulties in getting through to their surgery to make, change or cancel appointments with their GP.

"We know this can have a knock-on effect on other health services such as A&E. Eventually we hope to see fewer people turning up to A&E when they could have gone to their GP instead."

To see whether your surgery has signed up to Patient Partner and when it will be available, click here.

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