Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group has deployed a 24 hour appointment booking system for GP practices.

The launch of the telephone appointment booking system is part of a programme to improve access to services. And reduce the number of missed appointments.

Thirty GP practices will implement the system, called Patient Partner, beginning with eight in the first phase of the project, with 22 to follow by winter 2015.

Katoky Practice in Barnsley was the first to implement the system and practice manager Marie Hoyle, who has driven the CCG to take the system, said she believes it will make a huge difference to patients as it means they can book, check or cancel appointments at any time that suits them.

“Our staff are excited about its introduction. This is a real step forward in the quality of patient access to GPs in Barnsley and we are delighted that the CCG is supporting surgeries in this practical way,” she said.

The system means patients call the GPs usual number and can choose if they want to speak to a receptionist or use the automated booking service. The system can look up available appointments in the GP and clinic diaries and patients can choose one that suits them.

Dr Nick Balac, chair of Barnsley CCG said he hopes it will help generate cost savings by tackling the number of missed appointments.

"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,” he said.

“We hope that this new system means that those patients, who need to cancel appointments, will now be able to do so much more easily. This will free up appointment times for others that need to see their GP. 

This is one of Patient Partner’s most concentrated and large scale deployments of the system in the country.