Patients book GP appointment by text message at Cwm Garw Practice

Image caption The trial may be extended at Cwm Garw Practice if it proves successful, says Dr Porter

A GP practice is booking appointments by text message so doctors' patients do not have to queue on the phone.

About 100 patients have already signed up for the service which began earlier this week at Cwm Garw Practice, Pontycymer, Bridgend county.

GP Fiona Porter came up with the idea to cut costs to mobile phone users.

The practice, which operates from different sites, uses an 084 number that enables people to call and queue but it costs more.

The new service will cost mobile phone users less or could be free depending on their phone tariff and it sends a message direct to practice receptionists.

Dr Porter explained that receptionists would process the messages in the order they are received meaning people could make an appointment without having to wait.

The practice also uses a local phone number for patients which is cheaper to use than an 084 number but patients may receive an engaged tone and cannot queue during busy times.

The trial could be extended if it proves successful but there are not yet any plans to offer services such as appointment reminders, said Dr Porter.

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