Published: 06:00, 14 January 2021
A medical practice was bombarded with almost 4,000 calls in one day from patients trying to secure coronavirus and flu jabs, bosses have revealed.
Receptionists from Heron Medical Practice in Herne Bay were inundated with more than five inquiries a minute last Friday.
Its business manager Helen Sutton fears many residents gave up trying to speak to their doctors on the day.
She said: “There were so many trying to get through at the same time that it blocked the whole system.
“By the time the patient gets through, they’re angry because it’s taken so long for them to get through - but many didn’t get through.
“It was just relentless, that day. We’ve only had 4,000 calls in a day once before.”
Bosses believe the spike in calls was partly triggered by an NHS letter to 50-to 64-year-olds asking them to book an appointment for a flu vaccine.
The practice - which runs sites in Beltinge, the centre of Herne Bay and Hersden - also says that many patients were phoning in to ask for a Covid-19 jab.
“It was a mixture of things,” Ms Sutton continued.
“People were calling up about the Covid vaccine and also some patients were saying they’d received a letter about the 50-to-64-year group getting their flu jabs, which didn’t come from the practice.
“All that cohort of patients received that letter and were phoning the practice to book that in as well.
“We are doing some of the 50-to-64 flu jabs, but with the Covid vaccine, there’s only so much capacity and it’s got to take priority.”
Meanwhile, Herne Bay’s only other practice, Park Surgery, says it has received on average between 500 and 600 calls each day over the last three months.
Following the deluge of calls last week, Heron is urging residents not to clog up its phone lines with calls about the coronavirus jab, and to instead wait to be contacted by the practice.
It is also telling those who have received the flu vaccine letter to email email@example.com instead.