The issue of GP appointments is one of the most difficult areas we deal with in terms of our relationship with patients, and the quality of service we provide as judged by the CCG, CQC and the government. The following points must be borne in mind:

There is a national shortage of doctors, particularly GPs, and although the ideal scenario would be to have the capacity to offer all patients an appointment with the doctor of their choice at the time of their choice, this will never be achievable in the current state of the NHS.

As doctors, our overriding concern is that those cases most in need of our attention are seen as soon as possible with less medically urgent (not urgent in terms of convenience!) problems waiting to a later time.

Please remember that it is not always necessary to see a GP. A Practice Nurse or a Health Care Assistant, or another service such as an Optician or Community Pharmacy, may be more appropriate and for this reason, receptionists have been trained to cover a more diverse role as Care Navigators in ALL practices across Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale.

The purpose of this role is to shorten the time it takes to connect patients with the most appropriate person to meet their needs. The receptionists have a number of alternative types of appointments available to them, and they need to offer you the most appropriate appointment to deal with your problem. The most appropriate appointment may be with your GP in surgery or via telephone, or perhaps with another member of the practice team.

To help you make the appointment, the care navigator will need to know a little about why you need an appointment and so will ask you some very brief questions about your symptoms and why you feel you need an appointment. This is entirely confidential, and although you do not have to answer them, we would ask that you do so to enable to help you in the best way possible.

If you are given an appointment for an initial telephone discussion with the doctor, they will assess your needs and urgency. If they decide you need to be seen for examination, they will give you an appointment for this. Some of these appointments are available online. Click here to book one. Please refer to our privacy notice below when using this service.

Government funding is also now available for us to bring in other means for this initial consultation to take place, such as video calling and apps where you can enter your symptoms to create structured messages for us, so we can get an idea of the nature of your query before we contact you to discuss the best course of action with you. Please see our online services page for details. These services are available throughout the day, so there is no need for the awful queues at reception in the mornings! 

At times of peak demand, we may need to direct you to one of our GP led clinics at Rochdale Urgent Care Centre.

Help us to help you:

  • Please let the surgery know in good time if you are unable to attend an appointment. This will enable us to offer the appointment to another patient.
  • Your appointment is for one person only.
  • If you need an internal examination please ask for a longer appointment.
  • At your appointment you should see the doctor or nurse within 30 minutes of your appointment time. If there is a delay we will try to advise you of this. You can help by being on time for your appointment. If you are more than 10 minutes late for your appointment we will ask the doctor or nurse if they can still see you, but this is at their discretion and you may have to wait until they can fit you in between other scheduled appointments.
  • Please check in at the reception desk or the touch screen system when you arrive otherwise the doctor or nurse will not know that you are in the waiting room.
  • Please ensure you are available on a working telephone at the agreed time for a telephone consultation. We may try to call you earlier than the actual time if we get a cancellation, but will try again around the agreed time if we get no reply. However if we try twice around the agreed time and get no reply, we will not try again and you will need to rebook as the doctors and nurses have a lot of other calls booked into those sessions. Please note that text message reminders for appointments may not reflect the agreed time, and may not remind you that it is a telephone appointment, so remember NOT TO ATTEND surgery when you receive these!

Telephone/Internet Messages

If you phone us with a question or message for a doctor or nurse, the receptionist will take the details and pass the message on to the doctor or nurse. 

You may now also use the secure online messaging facility to leave written messages for members of the clinical team. Please note that these messages may be answered by another member of the clinical staff if the recipient is absent.

Please note that for reasons of confidentiality we are not prepared to leave messages on voicemail or answering systems because there is no guarantee that they will be received by the person for whom they are intended.

All telephone and internet messages can only be dealt with on a non urgent basis.


We only have a limited number of early morning and evening appointments, but did you know that you can book to see a GP or nurse at evenings, weekends and on bank holidays for routine appointments? Click here for details

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