AS GP surgeries overflow during the coronavirus pandemic and the 'super cold' spreads across the nation, residents of Winchester hailed their GP surgeries as "excellent".

It comes after a number of complaints had been made about doctors' surgeries having long wait times to be seen, while the Oxford Mail recently reported that GPs in their area took 32-minutes to answer the phone.

Botley Medical Centre was also rated ‘inadequate’ earlier this year by watchdogs from the Care Quality Commission report due to a patient being on hold for over two hours.

Mr Coombes, a patient at St Paul's surgery, said: "They're brilliant. They're wonderful. I can't fault the surgery at all. Sometimes when you call it might take a couple of minutes to be put through but they'll see you straight away."

Mrs Paxton, also a patient at St Paul's, said: "They are very good. Excellent. For general appointments, I got an appointment in less than a week for something that needed seeing that wasn't urgent, otherwise I would have gone to the hospital. It was excellent. From our family experience they have been brilliant."

Doctors recently hit out to the BBC, saying patients must 'compete' for appointments once the phone lines open.

Mr Banister, a patient at St Paul's surgery, said: "I had Covid and they were very good. They got me in within 45 minutes. I phoned the receptionist and they came back to me within 45 minutes saying 'come straight in'. I've found them very good. I've seen them a lot in the past year and I think they're excellent. I also did an online form and an appointment became available straight away. In the past, that would have taken ages, but now, they're on the money."

However, it took the Chronicle 19 attempts to be placed into a queue of four people, with the operator 'on another line'. From here, it took a further 18 minutes to speak to admin about appointments.

Patients of St Clement's also praised the surgery, with one patient, Mr Kirby saying: "I've been getting appointments via the e-consult system which seems to work well. They say they'll get back to you within 36-hours and they've always done that. I think they can get through the phone system quicker by employing more staff. Given the circumstances I think they're good."

In response, Dr Sudip Nandy, senior partner at St Clement's, said: "The people working in the NHS, including general practice, have been experiencing some challenging times, and I know that all three Winchester practices have been working hard to maintain a decent level of service.

"It is always appreciated when people take the time to give some positive feedback, and in return we can reassure you that we will continue to work hard to provide a good service and a high standard of clinical care."

While on a call to St Clement's surgery, the Chronicle was put into a queue right away, however it took 22 minutes to speak to reception.

When asked his thoughts on the older generation, who are less likely to book appointments online, Hampshire county councillor Alan Dowden said "residents generally are frustrated with a reduced number of GPs and the ease of gaining a personal appointment".

He continued: "They are waiting a long time on telephone calls waiting to get through to make an appointment. Often they will give up waiting. And then the receptionists are encouraging telephone appointments. I have not had feedback on how residents find these. My wife ‘s experience of this was very good , but I think older people would not necessarily find it easy or preferable.

"The NHS have been appreciated by the public for the work they have carried out during the Covid-19 pandemic. However until this government funds Social Care appropriately things will not improve.

"The cost of a hospital bed is far more expensive than the proper care at home and if it was available it would ease the pressure on acute hospitals. The ambulance services and the hospital A&E are having huge pressures placed on them because people are by passing local surgeries in order to gain medical assistance."