Our Appointments System


In line with changes throughout Primary Care, our GPs started to move to a ‘telephone first’ system towards the end of 2019.  There are many benefits to the system:

  • It reduces the number of sick and vulnerable patients needing to come into the surgery
  • It allows greater flexibility for those who find it difficult to get to the surgery – perhaps because transport is challenging, or they work away from home, or have other commitments which mean it is easier for them to take a phone call than attend an appointment
  • A lot of problems can be dealt with over the phone and do not require a face to face appointment, telephone first allows us to provide more GP appointments, helping us to meet the increasing demand
  • It allows greater flexibility for our GPs meaning they can work remotely if necessary – a particular challenge for us as we are outgrowing our building and do not always have rooms available for all our clinicians
  • For those patients who need an interpreter, there is greater availability for telephone support than face to face services

Because we had already started to adopt this way of working, when the pandemic arrived in 2020 we were well placed to roll it out quickly to protect both our staff and patients and ensure that we were able to continue to deliver primary care services to the community of Bicester.  As a result we know that for some patients the perception was that telephone first would be a short term solution and we would return to face to face appointments once it was over, but this is not the case.



When you book an appointment – either by telephone, through eConsult, or by coming into the surgery – you will be given a ‘slot’ for your named GP to call you for a telephone appointment.  If there are particular times you are unable to speak to your GP, we will make a note of those and your GP will endeavour to call at a time which is convenient.

Our Patient Co-ordinators will ask for brief details of your symptoms and will pass this information to the GP.

Your GP will review their list and plan their day, usually trying to call those patients they feel will benefit from a face to face appointment earlier in the day so they can arrange for them to come in that same day.

Your GP will call you to discuss your symptoms and is able to offer the full range of support over the phone – from referrals to other specialists, arranging prescriptions, and booking blood and other tests.  If it would be helpful, they may ask you to send photographs or take part in a video call.

Importantly though, if they need to see you face to face, they will book an appointment for you to come into the surgery to see them, usually on the same day.



Yes, you can.  If your GP feels that a face to face appointment is necessary, they will arrange a time for you to come in and will book you into their list directly.

Where there is a specific reason for a patient to be seen face to face – for example, some of our hearing impaired patients or for some specific scheduled reviews – they will be booked straight into a face to face appointment with their GP.



Our nurses and healthcare assistants continued to offer primarily face to face appointments throughout the pandemic and the majority of their appointments are still face to face.  However, for some conditions and some patients, telephone first appointments are very helpful and so they continue to offer both.

Our paramedics, pharmacists, physiotherapists, MIND workers, and counsellors, all offer both telephone and face to face appointments and the most appropriate appointment will be determined by our trained Patient Services team.


Page published: 7th October 2022

Page last updated: 7th October 2022