Your Questions Answered About Houghton Regis Doctor's Surgery

When Lynn Watson had concerns about her doctor's surgery, and then observed people complaining online about their difficulties getting an appointment with their own doctor's surgery, she posted on the social media platform nextdoor inviting people to submit questions that she could put to her doctor's practice manager. 

The response was considerable. Lynn said, “I was amazed at the response. I received over 200 replies in the first two hours of posting it. I have done a bit of research with regards to the role of the Patient Participation Groups and felt that maybe I could help to get patients voices heard and assist in getting them the service they deserve and were promised.”

Lynn has granted News Desk permission to reproduce the results of her meeting with the doctor's practice manager. Lynn resides in Houghton Regis, is retired, and is a patient.

By Lynn Watson
Hi everyone, 

I went to the PPG meeting as a new member. I think it was quite productive. Hopefully, you will think the same. My questions were presented at this meeting not only to the practice manager, but also to the GPs that were representing Houghton Regis.

1. Face -to-face appointments

The surgery acknowledges that most GPs prefer to do face-to-face appointments but due to time constraints, COVID-19, and the need for social distancing, telephone appointments have had to be used. On average a GP aims to see 20 people in the morning surgery and 20 in the afternoon. GPs recognise that it is not necessary to see all patients. For example, some can be seen by a practice nurse.

2. Why does the receptionist ask ‘what do you want to see the GP about’?

The reason, I was told, was so they can triage you to the most appropriate person. I know this has been a bone of contention for a lot of us but I am assured by the surgery that you do not need to go into great detail, or any detail at all, if you don’t want to. If you wish, you can just say it’s personal and you will not need to say any more.

3. Rudeness from receptionists

The practice manager has told me that all calls are now recorded this is for the benefit of both the patient and the staff in the hope that each treats the other with respect.

4. Phoning for an appointment

The practice now has a new telephone system in place with a limited ability to accept calls. When your call is answered, you are now made aware of what number you are in the queue. Once you have received this number you can put the phone down and you will be called back when your number is reached. Therefore, it is no longer necessary to hang on the phone for hours. [NB update today 06.10.21 surgery have just told me there is a problem with call back at present. They are trying to rectify ASAP]

I also brought up the fact that for those of you that are working trying to call at a predetermined time this is not always convenient or possible. Again, this has been noted by the surgery and they are looking into offering other times to call in for those of you who work.

The surgery is also looking into giving a time period of, say 2 to 3 hours, when you can expect a callback, to make it easier for those of you who work.

5. First time sicknotes and renewals

This can now be done automatically on the phone. 

6. Delays in getting prescriptions

You can expect to wait 72 hours for repeat prescriptions to be ready. However other prescriptions are usually available within 24 hours. [06.10.21 - NB  PRESCRIPTIONS CANNOT be requested by phone.]

7. Covid booster injections

Houghton Medical Centre aims to start supplying this on-site within the next couple of weeks.

8. Parking

Parking at Houghton Medical Centre is now limited to 2 hours Monday to Friday, monitored by camera. Hopefully, this will make It easier for patients to park.


I could not get all your questions answered due to time restraints however I will be attending these meetings regularly and will be more than happy to hear from you if there is anything you want me to bring up. Once again I need to remind you I cannot take forward individual cases [for the time being Lynn is happy for you to write to Houghton Regis News Desk and for us to forward your comments to us].

Lastly, I have mentioned the need for a Facebook News Page for this particular surgery, Houghton Regis. I was asked if I could do this and have agreed. However, I would welcome the help of anyone who has computer skills to help me.

I do feel that a newsletter would help us all to understand how our surgeries are being run. It can be used to both ask questions and receive answers.


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