A Guide to our Appointments
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There are about 8000 patients
registered at Combe Down Surgery,
between 5 doctors.
In the last year there were 22,624
appointments with doctors and 13,446
appointments with nurses.
With such large numbers there will
always be some degree of pressure on
our appointments. We endeavour to
provide an efficient service and
hope to make the appointment system
as convenient as possible.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get
an appointment with a doctor exactly
when you want to. Our system is set
up with a variety of options to make
things as easy as possible:
Option 1: Book on the Day
These help you
see a doctor as fast as possible
when you are ill.
The majority of our appointment
slots can only be booked on the
same day. Telephone lines open
at 8 am and appointments can be
booked by calling 837171.
Often the lines are very busy
between 8 and 8.30 but usually
there are appointments free
until mid morning.
Our standard appointment length
is 10 minutes.
Option 2: Advance
1. You can
pre-book to see any doctor in
one of their early morning slots
between 8.30 and 9.00am and we
now have late morning pre
bookable slots available.
We realise that some people need
to book ahead. We have a number
of doctors’ appointments that
are bookable up to 4 weeks in
2. Some people need to book to
see a doctor after work
Most days one of the doctors
will be doing a late surgery
with pre-bookable appointments
between 5.30 and 5.50. These are
particularly intended for people
who are working, so they can see
a doctor on the way home.
3.We realise that some people
have particular circumstances
that make it hard for them to
use the Book on the Day
appointments (for example older
patients with mobility problems
who may need to organise a carer
to bring them in).
If you are one of these
patients, we also have a small
number of mid afternoon slots
available to book in advance.
Please explain to the
receptionist your situation when
requesting one of these
appointments. Please be aware
that we do have to be fairly
strict about their allocation so
they don’t get overbooked.
Option 3: Open
In order to
provide you with a greater
number of appointments, each day
we run an “open” surgery every
afternoon. This runs between 3
and 5 pm.
Appointments in Open Surgery are
ideal for simpler problems such
as minor infections, rashes,
simple medication reviews and
During Open Surgery we aim to
see a large number of people.
For this reason appointment
lengths are only 5 minutes long
and are therefore not suitable
for addressing complex or
longstanding medical issues
where more time is required.
Please be aware:
• as time
is limited, we are only able
to deal with ONE problem at
• you will need to book in
by telephone to check that
there is a slot available
• we do not book specific
appointment times but see
people on a first come first
served basis if you arrive
between 3 and 5 pm
• we are unable to guarantee
in advance which doctor will
be doing the open surgery.
If you feel a
telephone call may be suitable
to address your enquiry then you
can arrange a telephone
consultation with a doctor.
Phone the surgery as if you were
going to make a normal
appointment and ask for a
telephone appointment. You will
be asked to leave a contact
phone number and a time when you
can be called back. The doctor
will try to call you back as
close to that time as possible.
appointments use a different
system and can be booked up to 5
OPTION 5 : Saturday morning
These are to
help those people who struggle
to see the Doctor during the
week such as those who work
They are Pre-bookable ONLY
If you do NOT have a Pre-booked
appointment with the Doctor then
you will NOT be able to be seen
as the doctor will be fully
booked in advance.
Please click here for further
details and commonly asked
If you are unable to
attend an appointment you have
booked PLEASE ring us to cancel
In the last six months 1728
appointment slots were wasted by
people not attending.
Even if you cancel with a short
amount of time to go there is a good
chance someone else will take your
slot so please let us know.
If there is a genuine medical
emergency or concern we will of
course see anyone at short notice.
If all our appointments are full or
you have a really urgent problem
that needs attention before the next
available appointment, please make
it clear to the receptionist that
you feel there is a potential
emergency. The receptionist may ask
a doctor to call you back straight
away to decide the best course of
Frequently asked questions
Why do you use the “Book on
the Day” system?
We changed over from a more
traditional system about 4 years
ago, as did many surgeries in the
NHS, partly in response to a
government initiative to ensure all
patients were seen within 48 hours.
Previously, when most appointments
were bookable in advance, all the
spaces were taken up 3-4 weeks ahead
meaning it was very hard to get an
appointment quickly. The new system
allows appointments to be made more
easily when you really need them.
Since the change to the new system
we have done annual surveys of
patients at Combe Down and overall
satisfaction seems higher.
In addition, far fewer people forget
to turn up for their appointments,
saving a lot of wasted time.
Why can’t you do a few more
We know that the disadvantage of
this system is that it’s harder to
plan ahead. As explained , we do
have some advance bookings available
but we have to limit their number.
If we booked any more ahead there
would be fewer available at the
start of each day and the “Book on
the Day” system wouldn’t work.
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