A NEW system that sees patients have a consultation with the GP on the phone before seeing could help save a struggling surgery.

At a meeting on Tuesday, questions were asked about the Bradford Health Centre’s new telephone-first system, which aims to free up doctors’ time.

The change came after the health centre declared itself a vulnerable practice, meaning it is understaffed and struggling to see patients.

Former town councillor Pam Hyde who lives in Woolley Street has had trouble booking appointments in the past.

She said: “If the surgery was a school, it would be put into special measures.

“I am pleased to see the surgery declared itself vulnerable and is getting more help with its services, which is a good thing.

“I think now we just need to keep an eye on how it is doing and hope that the new phone system and other measures help it improve.

“Everyone in the town wants to see it succeed, we would all hate to see it close so we are rooting for it to be successful. It is the only one we have in the town now.”

Locality manager Amanda Brookes said: “We saw the need for change in 2017 when we declared ourself a vulnerable practice.

“We didn’t go about this change lightly, we spent over three years trying different models, comparing how many telephone calls we get in the morning compared to how many face-to- faces we can conduct.

“We have taken advice from NHS improvement and talked to other large practices who are using a similar approach.”

Many members of the public at the meeting were shocked to learn of the extreme pressures doctors and practice staff are under, following the presentation at the area board.

Cllr Laura Mayes, cabinet member for public heath, said: “We as a community can help the surgery by supporting groups and helping people access alternative services such as social clubs to take the pressure off our GPs, when some patients aren’t needing treatment but feel like they have nowhere else to go.

“We have to help the surgery which is under immense pressure in anyway we possibly can.”