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To think that not all Doctors receptionists are interfering biddies?

(36 Posts)
SingingSands Mon 10-Oct-11 14:39:04

I've just had an argument by text with my friend.

It started with a very long text from my best friend, ranting on about how she couldn't get a doctors appointment and laying the blame at the feet of the receptionists and calling them interfering biddies.

Basically, she wanted an appointment for today and they couldn't fit her in. When they enquired what she needed she refused to give them any information (she reckons it's not their place to know and will tell them she will only speak to a doctor).

We go to the same doctors surgery and I have always spoken very nicely to the receptionists and give them as much information as I can about my problem as they very often come up with a solution for me - e.g. I had run out of my pills, thinking I had another packet in the cupboard, no appointments available with doctor or nurse that day so receptionist had the doctor write me a prescription to collect at the front desk, and made an appointment with the nurse for 2 days later to do my blood pressure check. Problem solved.

I think my friend sees the receptionists as the enemy instead of as a source of information and advice and people who can actually help her. She also tends to treat the Doctors as an emergency service, expecting to be seen immediately.

I tried to tell her to be a bit more diplomatic in dealing with the receptionists but she just thinks they are there to answer the phones and book in patients. I tried to tell her that if she was a bit sweeter in her attitude they would really try to help her, but she was having none of it.

Is it just me who thinks this? AIBU?

gordyslovesheep Mon 10-Oct-11 14:41:36

no YANBU I think they get such a bad press - they have usually been very helpful when I, like you, have explained the situation rather than being rude

TheTenantOfWildfellHall Mon 10-Oct-11 14:47:45

I have found doctors receptionists to quite often be like other people.

Sometimes they are fantastic, helpful and are very patient centred. Sometimes they are filled with self importance and follow their own petty rules.

Sometimes they have brilliant days and are patient, helpful and considerate, sometimes they have bad days and are a bit off.

Sometimes they follow the rules to the letter, sometimes they tweak the rules slightly.

I actually got the best response ever when I was very distressed and actually became quite rude agitated whilst talking to the receptionist. She remained very calm and went above and beyond to help me out.

As always, some people are better suited to the job they do than others are, and this will always show in their conduct.

ImperialBlether Mon 10-Oct-11 14:48:42

Most of mine are great - I have quite a lot to do with them and they're lovely.

One of them, though, is like David Walliams with the "Computer says no" thing.

I asked her the results of a test and she said in a really flat voice, "You're not ovulating."

TheTenantOfWildfellHall Mon 10-Oct-11 14:49:08

And I speak as someone who used to be a hospital receptionist and worked with other hospital receptionists.

MsVestibule Mon 10-Oct-11 14:51:55

YADNBU. I have been registered with two surgeries and in both, the receptionists (with the exception of one stroppy, miserable individual) have been pleasant and helpful. If I'm asking for an emergency appointment, they do ask what is wrong, but I think that helps them decide whether a nurse practitioner may be able to help.

CMOTdibbler Mon 10-Oct-11 14:52:29

The ones at our surgery are brilliant, and if you are asking for a short notice appointment, of course they need to know the reason so they can conserve the limited number for those that really need them, or suggest a better person to see etc

ThingsThatGoFlumpInTheNight Mon 10-Oct-11 14:52:57

YANBU. I don't think they're any more unhelpful than anybody else, generally, and when I sit in the docs waiting room and hear the abuse and general rudeness they have to put up with, I wouldn't blame them for being a bit 'off' sometimes.

The silly thing is they would only have been asking what the problem was to see if it was serious/urgent and if they needed to do some jiggling and fit your friend in - so she lost out by being 'off' with them. Doesn't she realise that they have to adhere to the same rules of confidentiality as her doctor does?

NeumsyPeddie Mon 10-Oct-11 15:01:13

Nope, yanbu. (Be forewarned: I have a real thing about NHS abuse though. As an expat American it winds me up something rotten when people here honk and complain about the NHS. I know all systems have their weaknesses and NHS is no exception, but I can't tell you how grateful I am for having it. I know what it is to have to stop and wonder "Hmmm, should we go to the doctor, and ask the landlord if he can wait a week for the rent?".)

ANnnnyways. I think Tenant said it best with this statement: "As always, some people are better suited to the job they do than others are, and this will always show in their conduct."
At my old surgery the ladies in the office were all right butt-heads, but at my new one they are fab, because I'm not unreasonable in my requests and demeanor with them. It sounds as if your friend has a very bad attitude and tends to think certain people are just plebes. In fact, just this morning I called the surgery for an appt for me and for both twins, and even though they had nothing left they worked me in because I explained that DH is off to London tomorrow to film, and I will be without transport for three days. They were fab. I think your friend has the problem.

BettyCash Mon 10-Oct-11 16:53:27

Send her the Liz Jones rant about NHS GPs.

Onemorning Mon 10-Oct-11 18:25:47

YANBU at all

IfAtFirstUDontSucceed Mon 10-Oct-11 18:54:41

YANBU - My GP's receptionists are lovely, professional ladies. They always answer the phone in a polite manner, giving their name, and continually use my name throughout the call. I have never been asked the reason for my apointment request, but can understand why they may ask, so would be willing to give them that info if needs be.
I had to phone up for the results of a blood test last week, and the receptionist chirpily said that they were back, but she would have to get a doc to call me back as she wasnt qualified - which she said in a jestful way. As it happens, the results were fine, and the docs pretty much said that anyway.

sarahtigh Mon 10-Oct-11 19:34:45

your friend is BU, no way would she ever get an emergency appointment at the dental practice i worked at without stating problem if you do not want to tell receptionist it would be next appointment probably 6 weeks time. The receptionist is trained to triage ( prioritse and work through how quickly X emergency needs to be seen,) right now, today, this week or next routine appointment.

There are very limited on the day emergency appointments and you can not just get one by asking, unfortunately this comes about as too many people say emergency when actually no such thing

Receptionists at my doctors are fine but you can not have the sense of entitlement that means i can only speak to the manager about anything

redwineformethanks Mon 10-Oct-11 19:45:31

Our GP receptionists are lovely. I have no cause for complaint. I'd be inclined to agree your friend is probably the one being difficult

Minus273 Mon 10-Oct-11 19:54:30

YANBU there are 5 receptionists at my surgery and 1 is horrible. So I make that the majority being nice.

I work in the NHS although not as a a receptionist but have come across people who insist on emergency appointments for ridiculous reasons. Some of whom don't even need to see a GP at all. At the other end of the scale I have known just as many people who have meekly asked for an advance appointment, not wanting to make a fuss. On being asked what the problem is the receptionist has ensured they been seen quicker even in a couple of cases a 999 ambulance. In short most of them do a wonderful job.

ScaredyDog Mon 10-Oct-11 20:04:51

I moved drs surgeries a year or so ago, generally the ones at the old one were mean and rude, very unhelpful and obstructive.

But the ladies at the new one are lovely and very helpful.

My mum is a drs receptionist and she is told by her bosses to ask what the problem is if someone requests to be seen urgently

She's not that comfortable with doing that so she says something along the lines of "would you be happy to give me an idea of what the problem is so I can speak to the dr? Please say if you're not happy to discuss it" as she can understand that people might not want to say (most of the time they go into real detail that my mum doesn't really want to hear!)

My mum gets so many presents, at Christmas and throughout the year, from patients. She has a ready supply of home grown veg that patients bring in for the staff and she's even been bought Chanel toiletries by one person. She does go the extra mile for people and works really hard, so it's nice that she's appreciated.

Your friend is VU.

Meglet Mon 10-Oct-11 20:22:17

yanbu. I am happy to tell the receptionists what my problem is.

stoatie Mon 10-Oct-11 20:30:30

Receptionist are not telepathic (sadly for them) if you don't give a hint as to what the problem is/or why you warrant an emergency appointment how can they allocate accordingly - if not everyone would be demanding one.

I didn't used to be that impressed with our local practice (we have now moved) until I miscarried heavily one weekend. By Monday I felt so ill I rang and asked if the mw could ring me as I had no idea if this was normal for miscarriage or not. Receptionist was lovely and told me to stay where I was - within 10 minutes GP on doorstep - assessed me and I was admitted immediately to hospital - thanks to the receptionists appropriate actions

whackamole Mon 10-Oct-11 22:05:50

YANBU. I have to have this attitude as my mum is a doctor's receptionist grin

But actually I agree with you. I wouldn't want to give all the details over the phone, but to tell them my small son has a rash means I might get an appointment; or I have just found out I am pregnant, can I see the nurse to book in - these are questions I am not bothered about giving information, and TBH I'm not really all that bothered anyway. If they were nosy enough they could look at my file anyway!

They are all lovely at my surgery.

WibblyBibble Mon 10-Oct-11 22:16:11

They shouldn't be basing their level of helpfullness on how 'diplomatic' someone is to them, that's discriminatory (in particular against e.g. patients with ASD who can't be diplomatic). OTOH she's being a it strange to expect a same day appointment unless she spoke to them at 8am.

ColdToast Mon 10-Oct-11 22:21:03

YANBU. The receptionists seem to take all of the flak while rarely getting any credit for the job they do.

allagory Mon 10-Oct-11 22:44:11

The trouble is that doctor's receptionists are not professionals. By this I mean if they blab your medical problems all over town, they will still be able to be a receptionist. They are not bound by professional standards of conduct. So I can understand why people may not wish to discuss their details to someone who is not their doctor.

The receptionists at my present surgery are models of discretion. I would tell them anything. But at my old surgery I used to dread having any dealings with them - they took joy in being as obstructive as possible.

elastamum Mon 10-Oct-11 22:53:45

Mostly they are great, but they are NOt medically trained. I once picked up a repeat prescription for my 16 week old which was 10X the reccomended dose for his weight. when I queried this the receptionist tried to fob me off and told me it was correct. I insisted it was wrong (I studied pharmacology), so eventually she checked it with the GP, and was really embarassed when he promptly wrote another script.

What worried me is that she tried to send me off with a dangerous dose of medication for my baby, which hopefully would have been picked upp at pharmacy, but you never know.

JjandtheBeanlovesUnicorns Mon 10-Oct-11 22:54:47


But my doctors receptionists are --nasty evil rude nosey ignore the phone frown and sigh a bit difficult.

Bubbaluv Mon 10-Oct-11 23:34:33

I hated how NHS recptionists asked me what was wrong with me - it just seems so innapropriate. It's one of the things I miss least about the UK. That and not being sure I could get a same day appointment if I wanted one.

Most of the receptionists were perfectly nice, but it still felt rude when you are forced to divulge personal information to them. Anyway, YANBU as it's clearly standard practise, so she should not take her frsutration out on the receptionist.

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