Saddleworth Medical Practice closes online appointment booking

A GP in Oldham has shut down its online appointment booking function.

Saddleworth Medical Practice, on Smithy Lane, saw its online appointment form unavailable for days ‘due to the extremely high volume of requests for help’.

The practice says that the form will reopen and that staff are working at a level “beyond pre-Covid”.

On Facebook, some have reported having problems accessing the form.

A post originally said the form would reopen on Tuesday August 30, but now says it will reopen on Friday September 2.

A practice user said: ‘We have been trying to access the system for an ongoing medical issue with my son for 10 days and I am ready to file a formal complaint now.

“Presumably they are still getting money for every patient on their books and not fulfilling their patient care obligations.”

The message displaying the form is not available

However, many were positive about the practice: Carole Morrison, who is registered with the practice, said: “I’ve never had a problem with Saddleworth Medical Center. All doctors are in trouble. Be kind.”

Barbara Hodgson said: “I’ve never had a problem getting an appointment.

“I have used the online forms system and although it is not working at the moment, each system has technical issues, I was very impressed with it.”

In a joint statement, the practice leader and partners at Saddleworth Medical Practice said: “This practice, in common with general practice as a whole, is experiencing unprecedented demand.

“Our online system has proven to be very popular and is aimed at patients who have routine inquiries that do not require an immediate response.

“However, we have become aware of some patients attempting to use the system for emergency care. So to make sure these requests don’t get missed, we’re adding additional clinical and administrative support to screen requests when the service is relaunched later this month.

“Providing quality care is very important to us, and that includes ensuring quick access when needed.

“All the staff are working at a level that exceeds anything pre-Covid and we thank them very much for that.

“With the advent of new extended services in primary care, patients are encouraged to use them where appropriate, such as community pharmacists and the seven-day extended hours service to allow patients who need the most a GP visit to the office to get one.

“These services are now integrated across England in many areas, including Oldham, to help support the massive increase in demand for NHS care.

“We encourage patients who have concerns about accessing appointments to contact Victoria Howard, our Chief of Staff.”