A surgery under pressure from housing developments is cutting its number of GP appointments by introducing telephone consultations.

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Roundwell Medical Centre off Dereham Road, Costessey, will introduce a new appointment system from July 30 to cope with patient demand.

They said: “We know that we are struggling to meet the demand for appointments both routinely and on the day.

“We have been trying to identify a practical solution which aims to continue the ethos of the traditional family doctor, which we have been so proud of and balancing the demand for appointments.”

Patients will tell receptionists what their symptoms are and a doctor will call them back within two hours.

If the GP then thinks a consultation is necessary an appointment will be made for the day or later that week with a doctor or nurse.

Costessey county councillor Tim East, said the plans were “wholly unacceptable” and “ludicrous”.

He said: “If you are planning to restrict appointments to conversations with your doctor then I think that is retrogressive.”

But the surgery hopes to slash waiting times and wasted appointments with many cases being dealt with through a consultation over the phone and a prescription arranged by telephone.

In its June newsletter the surgery put the rising demand down to a growing population as more housing is built around Costessey.

There are plans for a further 580 homes near the surgery at Lodge Farm, and Queen’s Hills will also expand.

Surgery manager Jan Hardinge said the developments would mean an extra 3,810 patents which would be split between Bowthorpe, Beechcroft, and Roundwell.

Roundwell surgery was build with capacity for 14,500 patients and has 11,265.

Mrs Hardinge said: “Patients will be seen appropriately by the right health care professional.

“There will be a prompt service.

“Doctors will basically triage patients before they are given an appointment.”

She said the new system would mean waiting times would be reduced and patients would no longer have to call at 8.30am to get an appointment for that day.

Other surgeries that have trialed the system have reduced face-to-face appointments with GPs by two thirds.

•Do you have a story about Costessey for the Evening News? Contact reporter Tom Bristow on 01603772313 or email tom.bristow@archant.co.uk.

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