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Please wear a mask to protect yourself and others - poeple are still becoming seriously unwell with COVID.  We have reduced staffing numbers every day due to COVID - if patients bring COVID into the surgery and pass on to our teams then we will have a further reduced service.  They also endanger those who are more vulnerable to the effects of COVID.

Support while you wait for hosptial treatment - Sussex Health & Care Partnership (

Hospital Waiting Times Information - NHS My Planned Care

My Planned Care South East

Please BE KIND to our Teams - please don't demand the impossible!

It has been a very difficult few years for everyone and we have really appreciated the kind words, patience and support towards our staff from so many people that use our services.

We can understand and share people's frustration at times.

Unfortunately we have had a rise in aggressive calls and this puts significant additional pressure on our already over stretched team. 

Please put yourselves in our team's shoes and consider how you woudl feel in their situation.  They will do whatever they can to support.

Our trained team may ask for details when you call so they can direct you to the best member of the team to help you in the most appropriate timescale

We want you to have a safe sustainable service at Ball Tree - we work incredibly hard every day to provide this and we are doing our best in very challenging circumstances.

Please help us to help you by being kind to all the teams when you get in touch - we will always try to offer you whatever we can as soon as we can.

Please be aware that due to frequent staff absences due to COVID we are not able to offer many pre-bookable GP appointments currently.  

We understand that this can feel frustrating however it is simply not possible for us to change this at the moment.  

Please do not take out your frustrations with the reception team members - they will do whatever they can to help you within the capacity that we have on that day.

We operate a zero tolerance policy.  Rude and agressive patients are removed from the practice list and need to register elsewhere.

GP Appointments

While we do have some pre-bookable GP appointments, most of our availability will be filled on the day.

Where needed, a GP will be able to speak to you on the day and the GP decide with you if a face to face appointment is needed. This will usually be on the same day.

Once we have reached a safe level of capacity each day we will then only be able to take GP requests for urgent matters. 

The phone message will change at this time.  Please note that we are still able to support questions and bookings for all other matters during the urgent only time periods.

We are sorry that this may cause inconvenience.

The demand on our service has increased substantially and we do not have any additional resources.

We want to operate safely for everyone's benefit and want to be available to you in a sustainable way.

Please call as early as you are able to help us plan our daily activity.  Please stay on the line and we will reach your call as soon as we are able.

Please consider if you could also be supported by contacting NHS 111 online or by phone or by a local pharmacy before calling us.

Annual Reviews for Ongoing Conditions

We are gradually moving back to our previous programme of annual reviews for people who have ongoing medical conditions.  This means that we aim to contact people around their birthday month for one or two appointments to cover key areas of health.  These may be by telephone or in person depending upon the type of review.  We are required to send out at least two invitations per person per year for those who have ongoing conditions.  These invitations will mainly come out by SMS or Email so please do ensure that we have your latest contact information.  

If you have any concerns or worrying symptoms at any time you can book a review of your conditions with a Nurse or GP.  It may be that we ask you to book an appointment with one of our healthcare assistants for a blood test or other checks before your review appointment so that the clinician has the most up to date information to support your care.

We are still affected by the ongoing impact of COVID across all our teams and services as COVID continues to be active within the community.  COVID is impacting our staffing levels just as it is for all organisations across the world. If you call to make a review appointment and we are not able to provide this on your first attempt, please be kind and patient with the team.  We are updating our diary each week but we continue to have to cancel clinics at short notice due to staff sickness with COVID.  Please do call us again after a couple of weeks so that we can try again to support you with an appointment.

For people who are more frail and unable to leave their house we offer review appointments at home.

AstraZeneca vaccines

The Government has confirmed that no Covishield vaccines have been administered in the UK and that all AstraZeneca vaccines given in the UK appear on the NHS COVID Pass as Vaxzevria.

The NHS COVID Pass is the digital version of individuals’ proof of COVID-19 vaccine status, which has been available for international travel since May.

The European Medicines Agency has authorised this vaccine and the Government is confident that travel will not be affected. 

The EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate is currently for EU citizens only, or third country nationals legally staying or resident in the EU.


Please do not call us about COVID Vaccination Passports - we need our lines to be focussed on access for those who are unwell

People are being urged not to call their GP practice about vaccination information on the NHS App.

This week it has been announced that the NHS app will be available to use as a vaccine passport from Monday 17 May 2021. A paper version will also be available by calling 119.

You do not need to telephone your Ball Tree to ask about the vaccine passport as we are unable to provide vaccine passports and it’s essential we leave phone lines free for people who need medical assistance.

The NHS App is separate to the NHS COVID-19 App, which is used for contact tracing.

 Your vaccine passport will only show when you have had both doses.

If you don’t have the NHS App, download the NHS App now. It will record when you have had both doses of the vaccine and automatically create a vaccine passport which will be available from Monday 17 May 2021.

If you already have the NHS App, it will record when you have had both doses of the vaccine and automatically create a vaccine passport which will be available from Monday 17 May 2021. You do not need to do anything.

If you have the NHS App and get a message to say you need to contact your GP Practice, this is an extra option to get full access to your medical records in the NHS App. It does not relate to the vaccination information. If you need this level of access please contact Ball Tree outside of peak hours or by email or letter in order to keep our phone systems clear for people that need medical help. There is a form on this website to complete for medical records access.

If you are planning to travel, please register to use the NHS App at least two weeks before travelling.

The paper letter should be requested at least five days after a second vaccine, and can take up to five days to arrive so make sure to leave plenty of time if you need it to travel.

COVID VACCINES - including latest on AstraZeneca

Lancing Parish Hall is our local vaccination centre

We are currently focussing on the national cohorts 1 to 9 and we have had a great local response to our invitations!

We still however have many people in these cohorts who have not yet come for a vaccine.  We really want to make sure that we have at least 90% of local people vaccinated.  In some age groups we have 99% with vaccines - but in others we are not yet at 90%.  We strongly recommend that you have a vaccine as the benefits for you and our community are clear.  If you are worried please do talk with a clinician.

Both the Astra Zenica Oxford and Pfizer Biontech vaccines are safe

There is updated guidance regarding the Astra Zenica vaccines which you can find HERE [PDF]

The NHS will follow medical guidance about who will be offered the vaccine and in which order - based upon medical priority and the latest information from the MHRA.

Please make sure that you continue to follow guidance to wear a mask, wash your hands and keep a 2 metre space from other to help prevent spreading COVID

Please make sure that we have your latest contact information and please answer your phones and respond to our email and text invitations.

We hope to be inviting people aged under 50 as soon as the national NHS system gives us access to vaccines.

Thank you

Managing Your Long Term Health Condition - we have made some changes to the way we manage your Long Term Condition Annual Reviews (frequently called Year Of Care reviews or "YoC")

Disability Register: the Compass Card scheme for children and young people with SEND.  

  • The Compass scheme is run in West Sussex and Brighton and Hove by the charity Amaze It includes the West Sussex Disability Register (a statutory duty for WSCC) and a free leisure discount card for all children and young people on the Register.
  • The Disability Register is for 0 to 25 year olds who have an EHCP (Education Health Care Plan) in school/college or are eligible for DLA/PIP. Other children and young people, who have a disability that has a major effect on their daily living, may also be eligible.  Data from the Register is used to inform and shape SEND services.
  • When families register (for free) on the Compass scheme they receive a discount card giving access to leisure activities for local disabled children and young people (at 300+ venues in non-Covid times).  It Gets Me Out, an independent evaluation of the West Sussex Compass Project by the University of Brighton in May 2020, demonstrates that the Compass Card significantly improves children and young people’s physical fitness, mental health, and confidence.


Be Kind

The Living Well Programme

The Living Well Programme is a free self-management course for adults living with long term health conditions – physical and/or mental – to learn the skills of self-management of a long term health condition. The courses are led by volunteer tutors, all of whom have long term conditions and are therefore have lived experience of the common problems faced by participants, and how to manage them. The courses run online with around 10 participants over 6 weeks, with regular weekly sessions of 2 hours. When it is safe to resume face to face contact the courses will start in the community again.
More information about the service, and contact details for self-referral can be found here: Living Well Programme at Sussex Community services


We are sorry that the folllowing changes will affect all of our patients for the near future.  We usually try to keep a mix of pre-bookable and on the day appointments available, however due to the significant impact of the current health concerns across the UK we now need to make some changes to help protect our local community.

From the beginning of March 2020 we have adapted our usual appointment system to help better manage increased demands due to COVID-19.

What has changed?

  • There will be no pre-bookable GP appointments
  • There will be no online booking 
  • All GP appointments will now be made available on the day only

Why has this changed?

  • Due to concerns regarding the Coronavirus COVID-19 demand has increased substantially
  • We need to triage all appointment requests according to the NHS National Guidelines
  • We need to try to continue to protect patients and NHS healthcare workers

What will happen now?

  • When you call for an appointment with a GP you will be asked a series of questions about your health including recent travel, contact with known COVID-19 carriers and any health symptoms that are associated with COVID-19
  • You may be asked to have a call back from a GP before coming to attend for an appointment
  • You may be asked to have a phone appointment with a GP or Advanced Nurse practitioner instead of a face to face appointment
  • You may be recommended to Self-Care
  • If you do need to come to the surgery, we may ask you to come at specific times and at a particular branch. 
  • Wherever possible we will continue to have appointments available at the surgery each day
  • Nursing appointments are currently working as usual but we are reviewing on a weekly basis and there may be additional steps to book in future

    NHS Guidance is updating on a daily basis please be aware that there may be further changes to our services.

Online Appointment Booking Temporarily Offline due to Coronavirus Triage

NHS Guidance recommends that all people booking into the surgery are asked about travel and symptoms.  To help with this we have temporarily turned off online booking.  We hope to restore this as soon as guidance suggests.  We are sorry that this useful service is currently suspended.

Click Here for the latest patient voice survey report - February 2020

ALL Paperless Prescriptions - Electronic Prescribing Service

Across the UK paper prescriptions are being phased out.

Please ensure that you have nominated your preferred pharmacist to benefit from the new paperless system

All you have to do is ask your local pharmacist to make them your preferred choice for receiving the digital prescriptions

You can also ask our reception team to add the name of a pharmacist when you next come in to order medication.

We have upgraded to the next phase of the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) which mean that almost all our prescriptions will be processed electronically from Wednesday 2nd September 2020

Electronic prescriptions help save the NHS money.

You will receive your prescriptions in the same way as you do now.

Read more about EPS on the NHS website.

You can still order repeat medication on paper 

We would prefer it if you could order repeat medication online if this is possible for you

Telephone - One number 01903 752200

We now have one number to access both branches
We hope that this will help provide better access to the surgery and it will allow us to manage our teams better across the two sites.
The number for our Kingfisher branch will stop working during the Winter
We will be sending out a text and email about this change in the next couple of months

Though we know that no one likes to have messages and options - this will help your call to be answered sooner.
Note that we have an ever increasing number of phone calls and a finite number of staff - please be patient.  On some days we have over 800 calls to process...

Local GP Access Hubs - Evening and Weekend Appointments!

GP and Nurse appointments are now available during the evening and at the weekend at local GP access hubs

  • Urgent appointments for a new illness
  • Same day and next day appointments
  • Access to your GP medical records with your consent
  • Appointments booked via Ball Tree
  • Clinical are operated by IPC which is a not for profit company owned by local GP practices

Talk to our reception team and they can advise you further!

If you are offered a GPAH appointment - please do take this - we will lose this service if it is not used.

Research Opportunity


Would you like to try a practitioner-guided self-help course for depression that you can do at home?

We are running a research project looking at whether self-help books for depression can be helpful. You will be given one of two self-help books and six support sessions with a trained practitioner to help you make the best of the book.

 If you are eligible to take part, you will receive three £20 shopping vouchers

 Would you like to find out more?

If you think you might be experiencing depression, are at least 18 years old and living in West Sussex please contact a member of the research team by phone on 07391 868694 or by email at 

 The study has been approved by the London Surrey NHS Research Ethics Committee, and will be recruiting volunteers until July 2019

Travel Services not available until later 2021

We are sorry that we will not be able to offer travel services until further notice due to staff shortages.  Our nursing team will be focusing on essential services for the time being.  There are commercial travel services available in the area.

2020 Newsletter

Download the Newsletter HERE [PDF] - please share the news -  update your friends and family 


  • Changes to services - 3 days for repeat medication and a change to ear wax removal
  • New App for booking appointments - click here for more info
  • Mental Health Access Survey - click here for more info - see also below re Mindfulness Meditation and Relaxation
  • Update about our merger & current pressures
  • New services 
  • New TEXT reply service - JUST ONE WORD
  • Working with our community - projects to help join up local services
  • Help us to help you - tips on getting the best from our services
  • Going Digital - please provide mobile numbers and email addresses
  • Free Mindfulness courses and drop in sessions available locally - throughout 2020- scroll down a bit or click here for more information [PDF]

Ear Wax Removal - Changes to Service - March 2020

Along with practices across West Sussex Ball Tree is changing services for ear wax removal

From March 1st 2020 we we will now be able to provide ear irrigation services in the following circumstances

1) We have received a written request from the hospital ENT or Audiology departments
2) Your GP considers that it is clinically appropriate

We recommend that you self care in other circumstances - this works in the majority of cases.

You can download our simple guide to help you here [PDF]

On our guide you will find the contacts for local NHS companies where you can purchase ear irrigation services

Our policy on this may change if we are funded differently for ear wax removal services and we are sorry for the inconvenience caused in the meanwhile.

Mental Health - Access Survey

We are working with Coastal West Sussex Mind on a project to help improve our access for people experiencing mental health problems.

We want to hear from you about your thoughts on how we can improve our services.  The survey is very short please do take a few minutes to help us shape our future services.

New NHS Guidance if your GP refers you to another service [PDF]

Please download this useful guide to GP referrals to other NHS Services

Practice Leaflet [PDF]

Patient Voice - Your feedback - Compliment or Complaint

New Text Messaging System - Reply with KEYWORDS

If you have a mobile number on our system you will be able to reply to text reminders for appointments if you need to cancel them

In addition, you will be able to say no thank you to invitations for Flu vaccinations or Annual Reviews

The system is not for general messaging - however it will help to save you a call and so long as you reply it will mean that you have fewer unwanted invitations.

Please do make sure we have your latest mobile number - we receive HUNDREDS of bounce backs every week.

You only need to reply with JUST ONE KEYWORD - such as DEFER or DECLINE - nothing else - as this is read by a computer and not by a person.

Allow up to 7 working days for repeat prescriptions

Due to increased demand on the surgery please allow up to 5 full working days for your prescription to be ready.
Please see our guide for when your prescription should be ready.
Please do not add to the pressures on the surgery team by calling to chase - we are working as efficiently as we are able within the resources that we have.
We are sorry that we are not able to turnaround prescriptions as fast as we would wish.

You can help us by signing up for paperless prescriptions and online services - this allows us to process your requests faster and ensures that your prescription goes directly to your preferred pharmacy.  If you do not sign up for these services, due to limitations in the computer system beyond our control, we cannot guarantee where you will need to go to collect your paper prescription.

Please help us to help you:

Register for EPS Electronic Prescription Service - Go Paperless - this means that you won't have to collect a paper prescription.  It is really quick and easy - just ask at reception or you can do this at your pharmacy.

Some medicines still need to be printed.  Ensure that if you have this sort of medicine you have arranged for your pharmacist to have your prescriptions collected from us.  Make sure that your pharmacist collects from us every day.  If they don't, then you may receive some of your medicines via EPS and still be waiting for them to collect the paper prescription for the medicine that has to be printed out.

Book your appointments by App! - currently suspended due to COVID Triage

We have invested in a new free App to help you book ALL available non-urgent GP and ALL available Blood Test appointments
Very quick and easy to set up and use
You can book 24/7 and don't have to wait on the phone

In time more appointments will become available via the App including a selection Nursing Appointments for particular clinics.
In time the App will allow you to send replies to messages - to say no thank you to invitations or to update our records with your smoking status etc.
The more of you use the App - the more we will be able add new functionality - we need to have a minimum percentage of people using the app to unlock all the potential.

Due to concerns regarding Covid-19 online and App appointment booking is temporarily suspended under the direction of the NHS

New Patient Survey - please contribute your thoughts and ideas

Please complete our latest full survey - it takes 3 -4 minutes only - we read every comment and take action wherever we can.

NHS Medicines Costs - Please help the NHS

As you are likely aware due to the cuts in funding all of the NHS needs to find ways to reduce its costs.  You can help with this important task in a few ways.

1) Only ever order the medicine that you actually need – there is lots of evidence that many of us over order and have stashes of unused medicines in our cupboards

2) Take the medicine that you are prescribed as directed by your GP – there is lots of evidence that many of us start to take medicines but then forget or take it or don’t take it as instructed

3) If you have stopped taking a medicine – please let us know.  If you don’t need it, please don’t order it.

4) Many medicines can be bought directly from the pharmacist for a low cost and often less than the cost of a prescription.  Even if you don’t pay for your prescriptions it may be that it would be possible for you to buy your medicines over the counter.  For example, some paracetamol will cost you about 50 pence however a prescription for paracetamol will cost the NHS over £10 due to how the system works.  If many of us choose to purchase over the counter for these types of products then it will save millions of pounds over the whole NHS.

5) You may see that there is a change to the packaging for some of your medication.  We have a team of pharmacists working in the area to help change medications from ‘Brand Name’ to ‘Generic’.  This is the same as Kellogg’s Cornflakes compared with Supermarket Own Cornflakes – however with medications there is NO difference at all in the ingredients of the medicine.  Changes to generic medicines can help save the local NHS many hundreds of thousands of pounds.  For some medicines the change will just happen.  For other medicines we or the pharmacist will write to you to let you know.

Do you have COPD or Asthma? - Register for airAlert to find out when pollution may affect you…

airAlert is a free service for people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma and COPD, and heart conditions.  Anyone can register for the service and can receive airAlerts by text, email or voicemail (to a landline).  Alternatively by downloading the free airAlert app alerts can be sent via notifications through the app.  Visit for more information.

Research in Adur

We are pleased to be part of a new programme in partnership with all the surgeries in Adur to help all our patients to access medical research projects.  We will be working to identify groups of patients who may be suitable to take part in medical research projects.  These can be for all sorts of things, from being asked questions about your medical experiences through to being in clinical trials for new medicines.  Taking part in research can be very interesting and rewarding and sometimes can even help benefit health.  Often it means helping by giving your time to make progress for scientific research.  In the next few months we will have more to tell you about the programme.

Please ALWAYS reply to our invitation letters, emails and texts... Help save the NHS!

As you know from the media, our resources have been cut.  You may not know that every time someone doesn't reply to us, the NHS requires us to contact them again, and again and sometimes again!  This is because we only contact you about important things such as vaccinations and annual reviews.  Every time someone ignores us, perhaps because they don't want to come in, we have to spend a huge amount of time and money setting up administration to contact them again.  We do not have access to modern technology to help us, so things take a lot longer and are much more difficult that you may imagine.

If we contact you, please let us know if you don’t want something.  Every time someone ignores us, it is taking away time and money that we can use to help someone else.  All it takes is a quick call.  We are also creating some new forms on our Online Services page to help you say no thank you.

Worthing Hospital - experiencing high demand - please help our colleagues!

Please do not visit A&E unless it is an actual accident or emergency

There are appointments available at Ball Tree or the GP Access Hub Clinic (call our Reception)

NHS 111 can advise and provide access to a GP when we are closed

Patient and Staff Safety

We aim to be respectful towards all of our patients and we expect the same respect in return.
Unfortunately, there have been an increasing number of instances where we have been made to feel very uncomfortable by the behaviours of some patients.
This includes unrealistic expectations and aggressive behaviour and language.  We now have a policy that anyone who is rude to our staff will receive a warning letter.
If that patient repeats such behaviour they will be asked to register at a different surgery.

Further to consultation with NHS England, we have unfortunately had to take the decision to install CCTV cameras at the surgery.
This is for the protection of staff and patients.  Information will be stored in strict accordance with the data protection act.
Video footage will be used as evidence to support removing patients from the surgery list where their behaviour or language is not acceptable.

Antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats facing us today...

Visit: Antibiotic Guardian Website for more information...

Why it is relevant to you: without effective antibiotics many routine treatments will become increasingly dangerous. Setting broken bones, basic operations, even chemotherapy and animal health all rely on access to antibiotics that work.

What we want you to do: To slow resistance we need to cut the unnecessary use of antibiotics. We invite the public, students and educators, farmers, the veterinary and medical communities and professional organisations, to become Antibiotic Guardians.

Call to action: Choose one simple pledge about how you’ll make better use of antibiotics and help save these vital medicines from becoming obsolete.

Antibiotic Guardian supports the UK Antimicrobial Resistance strategy, European Antibiotic Awareness Day (18 November) and World Antibiotic Awareness Week (14-20 November 2016)

going digital - email and text invitations and communication from Ball Tree

We are moving towards the goal of a reduced paper NHS...

This will have several benefits

  • We will be able to get information to you faster via email and text
  • We can save money on postage - which is necessary given our reducing budget and increasing costs
  • We hope to have two way communication by email before too long - but only when we have the resources to keep this communication safe (e.g. we need to be sure that if someone emails us with medically important information that someone will have seen the email)

How you can help

  1. Please can you ensure that you have given us your correct mobile number and email address
  2. Tell us when you change it
  3. We will not know if you have not received an email or a text and we do not have the technology or resources to follow up.

It is your responsibility to keep the information up-to-date. You can do this easily if you register for our online services

Do you have HRT? - Hormone Replacement Therapy ...

Have you had a check in the past year?  We recommend that your medicine is checked every year.  If you have not come in for a review, please make an appointment with your GP.

£ Paying by card...

We are now able to take card payments from most major providers.  We can also accept contactless and ApplePay.

Health News from the BBC and the NHS

BBC Health
NHS Choices Behind the Headlines
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