STOURBRIDGE GP surgery Lion Health has once again been named the worst for getting through on the telephone, according to the NHS’s annual Patient Survey.

The surgery in Lowndes Road has long been criticised for its phone system and last year when the problem was flagged up in the survey bosses and the CCG promised to try to take action to improve the situation.

A year on, however, satisfaction does not appear to have improved.

Just 15 per cent of survey respondents agreed it was fairly easy or very easy to get through to the practice via the phone, 30 per cent said it was not very easy and 55 per cent of the 438 patients who responded to the survey (and had tried to use the phone system) described it as not easy at all.

The latest NHS GP Patient Survey indicates even less satisfaction with the phone service than last year when only 19 per cent of patients credited it with being easy to get through, versus two years earlier when 44 per cent found it easy to telephone the surgery which looks after more than 30,000 patients.

Nationally 47 per cent of patients reported it being fairly easy to get through to their GP surgery.

In the Dudley borough Sedgley’s Northway Medical Centre was reported by patients to be the easiest to get through to; 63 per cent of survey respondents said it was fairly easily to get through on the telephone, while just seven per cent said it was not easy at all.

In the Stourbridge area the Three Villages at Amblecote scored the best for ease of getting through on the telephone; 57 per cent of respondents rated the surgery as fairly easy to get through to on the phone, while just 15 per cent said it was not easy at all.

The surgery in Vicarage Road also had the highest percentage of people booking appointments online – with 39 patients reporting to having booked this way.

The Summerhill Surgery scored highest in the borough for its helpful receptionists; 63 per cent of respondents rated the receptionists very helpful.

St James’s Medical Practice 1 in Dudley was rated highest for patients being able to see their preferred GP; 84 per cent of respondents said they were almost always able to see their chosen GP.

At Wordsley Green two thirds (67 per cent) of respondents said they only saw their preferred GP some of the time, while nearly a third of patients at Dudley's Beacon Medical Practice (30 per cent) and Lion Health (29 per cent) said they never get to see their chosen doctor.

Meanwhile, Moss Grove Surgery in Kingswinford received the highest satisfaction rating overall in the Stourbridge area; 94 per cent of respondents rated the surgery good or very good.

AW Surgeries in Brierley Hill had the lowest satisfaction rating – with 70 per cent of patients rating it as good/very good…while Lion Health and the Three Village received equal satisfaction ratings; 76 per cent of patients rated those surgeries as good or very good.

Sarb Basi, director of primary care at Black Country and West Birmingham CCG, said there was a wide variation in the satisfaction in the experience reported by patients across the region and he added: "Whilst there will always be a degree of variation we recognise that we need to understand it, share the practice of those high performing practices with others to raise the overall experience for all those whom we serve.

"This survey was conducted between January and March, during which practices played a key role during the pandemic, they have been open throughout and have continued to offer essential services to their patients. Crucially though they have had to adapt their way of working to ensure the safety of all patients. Despite these restrictions they have also been the driving force behind the delivery of 1.4million lifesaving Covid-19 vaccines."

He said it was pleasing that Dudley has some of the highest rates of online access and awareness of online services but he added: "We do however have concerns over the telephone access scores for some of our practices and we will be working with them to address this.

"It is really key that people continue to use GP services if they are feeling unwell or are concerned about any symptoms which are not normal for them.

"GP practices might be working differently but they are very much open and here to see people if necessary."

And he added: "Please always phone the surgeries, rather than turning up.”