A GP surgery has been criticised after changing its booking system, with one resident claiming it is not possible to get a same day urgent appointment on the phone any more.

Haresfield Surgery on Newtown Road has changed the way patients can make same day appointments due to ‘a significant increase’ in requests.

A spokesperson for Haresfield Surgery said: “We have recently implemented a new online system that allows us to manage a high volume of on-the-day appointment requests, and ensure every patient is seen safely and efficiently.

“However, the new system does not mean patients can no longer make bookings by phone. Any patients who are unable to use the online form are encouraged to call our reception team, who will be happy to help.”

But, a patient has described the changes as ‘appalling and discriminatory.’

He said: “You can no longer make on-the-day appointment requests via the telephone. You are referred to complete a long winded form on the Haresfield house website, and then someone will look through the form and give you a call in two days to arrange an appointment.

“This is an appalling change. My own experience with the service has been having called at 8.15am last week with a very poorly young child struggling with breathing issues/wheezing, I was told to complete the form online and someone will take a look to see if I needed to be called back by a doctor or advanced practitioner. I had to contemplate taking my child to A&E for him to be seen.

“Apparently this is a new way to do things as the surgery is receiving too many phone calls for appointments. I think this is a truly shocking change to how a GP surgery should be run, what happens to elderly/vulnerable people trying to speak to their doctor, many of whom are not computer literate or do not have access. It is a scandal. I am looking to move myself and my family to another GP’s surgery where such abhorrent service does not exist.

A statement on the surgery website reads: “If you would like to speak to a clinician about an ongoing medical concern then please be aware that there are pre-bookable telephone appointments available to book up to six weeks in advance.

“Availability of these can be dependent on particular clinicians and their working patterns but we will endeavour enable patients to book in advance with their regular doctor or clinician.

“Whilst we acknowledge that any changes to appointments can bring challenges, we request that patients are respectful of this new process.”