A PILOT scheme for a controversial new surgery appointment system will continue until further notice.

Patients wanting to see their GP at the Mayflower Medical Centre in Dovercourt speak on the phone and discuss whether a face-to-face appointment is necessary.

The trial has helped cut back on meetings being missed with an astonishing 2,700 a year being made and then not attended before the new scheme was introduced in July.

It was originally scheduled to last for three months but was extended until January 1 for further evaluation.

Practice manager Lizzie Stovell believes the best use of time and resources is to continue with the system for the foreseeable future: “We have looked very carefully at our options for continuing to give good quality and timely service to our patients.

“The only practical way we have found to keep doing this, given the constraints on our resources, is to continue for the foreseeable future with the effective arrangements we have been piloting now for several months.

“Patient feedback has been broadly favourable and our local patients’ group meeting has been supportive."