On Monday, 5 March, we are introducing a new appointment system developed in response to patient feedback. The aim is to provide the flexibility necessary for our 17,600 patients to access appointments appropriate to their needs.

To help us deliver this new system, we have engaged two new health professionals to work alongside our doctors. Both have the clinical skills and prescribing expertise to diagnose and treat common minor illnesses.

Kelly Cook is a qualified Nurse Practitioner and Prescriber with a wealth of experience working in GP surgeries, walk-in facilities and the urgent care centre.

Alyson McGivern is an experienced, qualified Clinical Pharmacist Prescriber with specialist clinical skills training who has worked within GP surgeries for many years.

Receptionists – the gateway to the service
The receptionist is instructed to ask you for brief details of your problem. We understand there may be occasions when you would prefer not to share personal medical information but if you feel able to do so it will help the receptionist direct you to the most appropriate solution. You can be assured that all staff are trained and contractually obligated to keep anything you do disclose confidential.

Please note we record all phone calls for quality monitoring, training, compliance and security purposes.

Doctors are highly trained professionals and it is essential that we use their time effectively. There are occasions when patients ask for an appointment with their doctor to discuss issues that can be managed quickly and efficiently by trained surgery support staff, e.g. ordering medication; giving out test results on which the doctor has already reported and chasing up hospital appointments. If the receptionist knows the reason for your call she can direct you to the right person within the Practice and free up a valuable GP appointment.

Similarly, not all problems need direct contact with the doctor and the information you provide may enable our receptionists to allocate your problem to our ‘messaging system’ that will ensure you get an answer to your question without using an appointment slot.

Patients can also access simple health advice from other providers such as local community pharmacies and/or NHS Choices at

Doctors’ Appointments

- Our doctors will provide a limited number of scheduled telephone appointments and face-to-face consultations that can be booked for the same day or up to two weeks in advance. A new batch of pre-bookable appointments will be released each day.
- The current call back system has been improved by the addition of a time-frame within which to expect a return call from the doctor.
- We will continue to offer a small number of telephone appointments bookable online, although patients using this service should please book their appointment with their usual doctor or if their usual doctor is not available book with Drs Robinson, Dacombe or Hodgson.
- If you have more than one problem, please let the receptionist know when booking your appointment so you can be allocated sufficient time. Appointments are for 10 minutes and this is not normally enough time for the doctor to safely manage multiple issues unless they are very minor.
- As you will appreciate there are a limited number of appointments available to book with each health care professional daily. Once the available slots are used you will have to book the next available routine appointment that is convenient for you. If you feel unable to wait for the next routine appointment you will be referred to the duty doctor.
- The duty doctor is available to call-back patients who have a same day acute problem. However, if the doctor who speaks to you feels your problem can wait you will be asked to ring reception to book the next routine available appointment.
- Once all the duty doctor slots are full, you can access the urgent care service by dialling 111 or for life threatening emergencies please dial 999.

Evening and Weekend Appointments at ‘hub’ sites

If you find it difficult to attend a GP appointment during our opening hours (8:30am until 6pm), ask our receptionists to book an evening (up to 8pm) or weekend appointment for you at one of our hub sites at:

Tennant Street Medical Practice in Stockton
Woodbridge Practice in Ingleby Barwick
Chadwick practice in Hartlepool

The hub sites can also provide a full range of nurse and health care assistant appointments – for example, patients who suffer from a long-term condition but struggle to attend a review. Healthcare professionals working in the hubs can access medical records with the patients’ consent.

Frequently Asked Questions

We received a lot of feedback about our new appointment system from our patients in our 2013 survey. As a result of this feedback and instances where patients have reported a problem to us, we have developed a series of Frequently Asked Questions about the Dr First appointment system. We hope that these FAQs will answers any concerns patients may have about our appointment system. If you do experience any problems with this system we would invite you to speak to the Reception Manager.


If you wish to be seen or advised in an emergency you should tell this to the receptionist. A doctor will then speak to you, offer advice or visit.

Home Visits

If you need to see a doctor and are too ill to attend the surgery, please ring 01642 745 350 before 10am. Reception will record your name, address, phone number and the nature of the problem and these details will be passed to your GP who may telephone you to discuss the problem.

Please remember home visits take up valuable time and should only be requested when they are really necessary.