How to Make and Cancel an Appointment


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How to get an appointment

We’ve listened, studied and planned and now we’re going to change. We want you to be able to get the Right Care, with the Right Person at the Right Time. These are the headline changes, but please read to the end for a fuller explanation as to why each change is being made.



Quick Points

1. Queuing outside at 8am DOES NOT guarantee you an appointment that day

Queuing outside at 8am DOES NOT (and technically never did) guarantee you an appointment that day. Coming to the surgery in person has no advantage over phoning when seeking an appointment.

2. Tell the receptionist what you need or what your problem is

Tell the receptionist what you need or what your problem is - they are bound by confidentiality just like the doctors and nurses and will use that information to get you the Right Care with the Right Person at the Right Time. Doctors and Nurses will no longer issue repeat prescriptions during normal appointments.

3. If you think your problem needs same day attention

If you think your problem needs same day attention, then you have to call us as early as possible and explain to the receptionist why.

4. The easiest way to get a routine appointment

The easiest way to get a routine appointment will be by booking online (ask reception if you need setting up on Patient Access).

5. Administrative work or paperwork related problems

Administrative work or paperwork related problems are very rarely a same day emergency. Please be organised and plan ahead for these. Your lack of planning should not take priority over a clinical problem.

6. You’ll be surprised what we can do over the phone

You’ll be surprised what we can do over the phone - give it a try. If we can’t solve your problem, we can always arrange for you to come in.

7. Cancelling Appointmentse

If you have booked an appointment and you then no longer need it or your plans change, please cancel the appointment.

8. Arrive in good time for your appointment

Finally, if you have an appointment, please remember to arrive in good time (patients arriving late is the main reason that our surgeries run late) and remember that the appointment is 10minutes long, which gives us enough time to address one problem properly. If you have more than one problem, or you need a language interpreter, please book a double appointment.


Quick Points in more detail

  1. Queuing is never fun. Queuing when you feel sick or are in pain has to be worse. We cannot ask those who feel they have to be seen that day to stand outside the front doors. They deserve to be able to call from home, get immediate advice from a doctor and plan when they come in. That’s humane. That’s Right Care at the Right Time. Furthermore, the NHS started on a founding principal of Need, not want. So just because we have an empty appointment slot later in the day doesn’t mean you should get it because that’s convenient for you; we’re saving it for that unwell individual who really NEEDS it. If you think you’re that person, then please tell us, but remember, it may mean speaking to the doctor first on the phone. Remember, coming to the practice in person carries no advantage over phoning in when seeking an appointment.
  2. Tell the receptionist as much as they need to know to help you. This is key to giving you the Right Care at the Right Time with the Right Person. We are going to have a variety of different appointments available each day. Which one you get will depend on what you need. Everyday Doctors see patients who should have seen the nurse, or called the hospital, or could have self-referred themselves. This takes up valuable appointment time that someone else could have used. It is also easily avoidable if you’re willing to tell the receptionist why you’re calling the practice. We understand that sometimes you may not want to say it out loud at the reception desk and so we will have a discrete list at reception that will allow you to indicate to the receptionist what the problem is, or you can ask to speak to the receptionist in private. Rest assured, our receptionists (and all staff) are bound by the same confidentiality rules as the doctors and the nurses. If you still feel you would rather not explain to the receptionist the issue, you will be given a telephone appointment to explain your issue to a doctor who will then book you a clinically appropriate appointment. This is not a shortcut to a sooner appointment.
  3. Not issuing repeat prescriptions in normal appointments.
  4. If we want to offer Right Care at the Right Time, we need to know as soon as possible what the problem is. Sometimes, we may not be the right part of the NHS to be seen in. Depending on your clinical need, you may be booked an appointment to see a doctor, or you may be called back by a doctor later that morning or afternoon. These are for problems you consider urgent, meaning you believe you need advice or to be seen on the same day. Please consider alternative sources of advice such as NHS 111 and your pharmacist. If either of them suggest you call us, then please do.
  5. Booking appointments online is the easiest way to do so for planned appointments. You cannot get a same day appointment online (unless someone cancels last minute and we re-release the appointment), but urgent appointments have to be booked by phone via reception. You will still be able to phone in and book appointments also; appointments become available both online and via reception at the exact same time. This allows you to book appointments at the Right Time. Please be mindful to ensure you book the Right Care with the Right Person.
  6. Administrative tasks including medical certificates, employment medicals, adoption medicals etc are considered routine planned work. Therefore, please plan ahead and book a routine telephone appointment or face to face appointment as needed. Medical certificates can be back dated to the date that you book the appointment, even if the appointment itself happens at a later date. If the work is subject to a private fee, it should not be done in normal NHS clinics so please call and discuss with reception. We understand that these forms often have financial implications, but this should not take priority over the clinical needs of our patients, especially in cases where you have had the opportunity to plan ahead.
  7. Telephone appointments may be the easiest way to get hold of a doctor and maintain continuity of care. Normally, you will be able to book a telephone appointment sooner than a face to face appointment but please only do so when you believe your problem can be dealt with over the phone. Telephone appointments do not have a specific time: they will be either in the morning or afternoon of a given day. The doctor will call from a withheld number and will try a second time after at least 10minutes should they be unsuccessful. Please ensure we have your correct telephone number. Again, a telephone appointment is NOT a shortcut to a sooner face to face appointment. If you subsequently need to come in, this will be at a clinically appropriate appointment in the future.
  8. Cancelling an appointment you no longer need or can make is common courtesy. We understand that mistakes happen, life does unexpected things and sometimes these things are just beyond your control. But repeat offenders will not be excused and may be asked to register elsewhere where the appointment system is more to their liking.
  9. Arriving not on time makes surgeries run late and has a knock on effect on the next patient who is also seen late. We will try to be flexible regarding things beyond your control but you may be asked to rebook, or you may be given the opportunity to be seen at the end of the surgery (this is at the doctor’s discretion and is determined primarily by what the doctor has to do after the surgery). We are often told by patients arriving late that surgeries frequently run late, and that it is therefore unfair that we don’t see you if you arrive late. We understand this frustration, but remember that if we are running late, it was because someone needed more of our attention than anyone had planned for. We know it has an impact on you and we apologise for that. But don’t forget that one day it might be you or your loved one who needs that extra time, and you won’t want us to rush on that day.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this far. General Practice across the United Kingdom is facing unprecedented workload at a time when there are not enough GPs to do it all. Our response to this is to work smarter and streamline how we offer appointments. I know that this means some of you will be disappointed as you won’t get your needs met as immediately as you did under our old system (but they will be met in the correct time frame) and the advantage of our new system is that we will be able to safely and promptly see those who are unwell and need same day access to a GP. And we will meet all your needs by giving you the Right Care with the Right person at the Right time.


GP Extended Access Service

NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group is committed to improving access to primary care services. This includes making appointments available at times that are convenient to patients.

If you:

  • find it difficult to attend an appointment during the working day;
  • are a busy parent with small children;
  • or rely on working carers to take you to appointments;

then this service is here to support you.



Cancel appointments you don't need