This website is intended for healthcare professionals


All GP surgeries in England to have digital phone lines by March 2024

Government plans to modernise and reform primary care progress as more than 1,000 general practices sign up for digital upgrades.

Patients will be able to contact their general practice more easily and quickly - and find out exactly how their request will be handled on the day they call, rather than being told to call back later, as the government and NHS England deliver on the promises made in the primary care recovery plan announced in May. If their need is urgent, they will be assessed and given appointments on the same day. If it is not urgent, appointments should be offered within 2 weeks, or patients will be referred to NHS 111 or a local pharmacy.

‘GP teams are already treating record numbers of patients, but we are determined to improve access further, which is why it is fantastic that all GP practices will be upgrading their telephone systems to make it as easy as possible for patients to contact their practice,’ said Dr Kiren Collison, GP and Interim Medical Director for Primary Care, NHS England.

‘The NHS is also offering people more convenient options in how they access care, with pharmacies playing a central role in managing the nation’s health, and the pharmacy consultation announced today will help ensure that more staff can provide life-saving checks and medication on the high street.’

Progress is also being made on other aspects included in the primary care recovery plan with discussions taking place between the government, NHS England and the pharmaceutical sector about the best way to use the up to £645 million of funding allocated to the pharmacy sector.

This includes work to ensure patients who need prescription medication for 7 common conditions can receive it without the need for a GP appointment.

Almost half a million women will no longer need to speak to a practice nurse or GP to access oral contraception and will instead be able to access it from their local pharmacy.

‘We are delivering on our promises to make access to GP appointments easier while boosting staffing numbers. With the support of NHS England, general practices, pharmacies and dental surgeries, backed by significant investment from the government, we will bring an end to the 8am scramble for appointments,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay.
‘I’m delighted that over 1,000 general practice surgeries will soon benefit from high tech designed to make booking an appointment as easy as possible for patients for years to come.’
Practices on older systems will receive an average investment of £60,000 each to move onto digital phones combined with updated digital tools and support for the transition.
Primary care is the way most people access the NHS and the government is committed to modernising the way patients contact their GP surgeries - improving satisfaction and delivering on the Prime Minister’s promise to cut waiting lists.
Successful care navigation can help direct 40% of requests more effectively and speeds up appointments for those who need them, so care navigators will direct patients to other professionals within the practice or other medical professionals such as community pharmacists who can best meet the needs of the patients.