Patients have been telling us that they are struggling to get through to us on the phone and access an appointment, which we are very sorry to hear. Unfortunately, it is a problem that we understand, and we absolutely sympathise with the frustration caused. We know it can be difficult to navigate the system and we are conducting a complete a review of our processes and access options for patients across all staff teams, led by our GP partners, to see how best we can tackle this issue.
We continue to experience unprecedented demand for appointments which has increased by 73% since May 2020 and is now at a higher level for us here in Malmesbury than pre pandemic. We are therefore working hard to meet this demand and work in line with the current guidance to use remote telephone triage and navigate patients wherever possible as well as trying to balance patient choice with infection control measures, avoiding crowded waiting rooms and queues. Additionally, we are recalling patients with chronic conditions for routine reviews as many of these were not completed in 2020.
In addition to demand for appointments, we are managing an increase in non-clinical requests, many of which are beyond our control. Recent examples being enquiries about signing up for the NHS App to access COVID Vaccine certificates, and hundreds of calls regarding the timing and availability of COVID, and now flu, vaccines.
In the last 12 months, we have employed additional staff, including pharmacists and physiotherapists, installed new phone lines, increased appointment numbers, and introduced a separate service for ordering medication to release our staff, and unfortunately, we are still inundated. In June, our GP partners increased the length of their clinics to try to make more appointments available and improve access for patients and we successfully recruited additional admin staff as well as another GP who will join us in September as we prepare to roll our Phase 3 of the vaccine programme. All this on top of inviting, recalling, and administering over 20,000 COVID Vaccines in 2021
Please be assured that we are doing everything we can to offer the best possible service at this time of increased demand. We are auditing incoming calls and wait times as well as appointment availability, we have increased our online provision with some routine nurse, phlebotomy, and GP appointments now available online, and are updating our website to offer other ways to contact us. We are currently preparing a survey for patients that we will be circulating in the coming weeks and your feedback will very much help inform our future plans.
Many thanks again for your ongoing consideration and support