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AIBU to think that the receptionist shouldn't be allowed to do this?

(186 Posts)
Naysa Fri 15-Mar-13 08:49:23

I rang my doctors this morning to try and get an appointment for today. You have to ring at 8, one the day, to get an appointment.

I got through at about 8.25.

I spoke to the receptionist and she said that they had a 5 minute appointment, "for one thing only", to see a doctor. I'm not fussy about which GP I saw as although it is a problem it is something that can quickly and easily be sorted.

I'm having a problem with my implant that is resulting in very heavy, painful periods. The problem goes away completely when I'm prescribed the pill.
I've had the implant for almost a year and I'm still battling to get it taken out (this is another story) but, for now, this is working. Unfortunately if I try and put a repeat prescription in, I am told it has been rejected and I am to see my doctor. The annoying thing is, is that the doctor who rejects my request hasn't actually seen me once in the two years she's worked there.

My pill ran out on Saturday. My period started Sunday night and it has not been a problem until yesterday afternoon so I rang this morning. It is practically unbearable. I'm going through night time pads almost on the hour.

I accepted the appointment, the gave the receptionist my name and DOB. She then asked why I needed to see the doctor. I stupidly told her the reason and she then said that she couldn't give me the appointment because it's not an emergency. If it was an emergency, I would have gone to accident and emergency. She then said that I can go to the family planning clinic on Monday. This is not the first time I have had an appointment "taken away" because my condition is not serious enough.

I'm now going to have a weekend full of cramping and a very heavy period (TMI sorry!)

AIBU to email the GP and complain and AIBU to change surgery?

quoteunquote Sun 17-Mar-13 16:18:58

Thanks PipkinsPal, we all have, (everyone has a problem with it) the whole of the local community has a problem with system, but they will not budge.

It is an ongoing battle, and will end up with a tragedy.

I phoned for a "normal' appointment on friday, it is in three weeks time.

It is not surprising the reception personnel are getting the brunt, but if practice managers chose to ignore that the system is not working it is to be expected.

PipkinsPal Sun 17-Mar-13 15:42:18

Quote - send a letter to the Practice Manager outlining your complaint and suggestions on how to make it better. If no joy then write to your local health board.

quoteunquote Sun 17-Mar-13 13:12:59


Quoteunquote..oh..because they are so stupid they can't understand big words

err no, because if it not kept under control it can be a real problem twelve times a year, grin

I use it because I get fed up of having to explain the inner working cancer treatment to them, and getting silly responses when asking for perfectly reasonable emergency appointments. My GPs don't mind.

(Am a receptionist and studied Classics at Oxford), good for you, never had any intention of degrading your profession.

the system in place at our local surgery(the only one in the area, so no choice)is that if you want an appointment, you have to phone up at 8am, even if you phone at 8am on the dot,if you phone even a second before you get a recored message then cut off, you are then placed in a queue, when you get to the front of the queue, usually 20 mins at least, you are informed all the morning appointments are gone, they will not book you in for the afternoon appointments

You then have to phone at 1pm, you wait in the queue, to be informed that you must phone the following day at 8am.

I find the ,*I always tell the receptionist that my lycanthrope is flaring up,and I need to see a GP asap before Therianthropy goes too far* method works,

Any other suggestions as to how to get an appointment would be very gratefully received, I genuinely would like to know.

at the moment I often have to drive to the hospital, and hour each way, and hang about for doctor, because I cannot get an appointment with the GP.

not everyone can do this, when I can't drive, I am stuffed.

So if you do have any suggestions I would love to hear them.

ihearsounds Sat 16-Mar-13 13:10:10

The op's example is another reason why receptionists shouldn't be triaging without any medical knowledge.
If the receptionist had any medical knowledge she would know the risk of complication from severe bleeding. She would know that iron levels drop, and depending on various factors, they can drop severely low.
The ops appointment wasn't about just getting a repeat prescription, but it was to get medication, regardless of what the meds were, to stop severe bleeding.
My gps used to be the same. Couldn't get an advanced appointment, could only get one of the day, and only if the receptionist thought you should be seen that day. Because of several complaints from pals and hospitals, the policy was taken away.

Raum Sat 16-Mar-13 13:07:35

People don't seem to understand that GP surgeries are essentially private businesses, complain about the lack of care, difficulty getting an appointment etc in writing and state that you'll both take it further and change practice if they do not respond with 10 working days. Practice's get paid if you are registered with them and are paid for each test etc carried out, I suspect that's partly behind prioritisation done by receptionists to maximise profit for the GPs.They have targets to meet for additional payments but practice's are ultimately in control of how they handle patients.

hackmum Sat 16-Mar-13 12:59:11

I think in the OP's situation, I would go to an OOH clinic, assuming there was one nearby.

I find the receptionist's attitude bizarre, in that presumably the OP's appointment would have taken about 2 minutes (take blood pressure, write prescription).

The problem a lot of people have is this: they have a condition (like the OP's, or like a child with a v high temperature) which isn't strictly an emergency, so they don't like to bother A&E. After all, we are constantly told that A&E is overworked, and that the service is abused by timewasters. But although it's not an emergency, they do need to see a medical practitioner quickly - it's not something that can wait for an appointment two weeks in the future. But if they phone up their GP and ask for an appointment straight away, the receptionist may make them feel bad because it's not serious enough. It just puts people in an impossible position.

OOH clinics are supposed to address this to some extent, though I was mystified by a thread recently where the OP took her diabetic child to an OOH clinic and then got an angry letter from her GP demanding to know why she hadn't taken the child to the surgery. (Someone said it's because GP practices get charged when their patients visit OOH clinics.) So whatever you do, you can't win.

Sirzy Sat 16-Mar-13 12:59:08

She could have got a prescription to make up if she needed it.

If they only have emergency appointments left then this isn't an emergency.

RevoltingPeasant Sat 16-Mar-13 12:57:13

Really don't understand why people keep saying the OP should have ordered more meds in advance.

Surely, the doctor told her to leave it and see? So she did? Then, it turned not to be settling down so on the day she started having bad pain she rang for an appointment.

I honestly don't see what she did wrong. confused

Yes, she could've ignored the dr's advice and stocked up on meds just in case, earlier, but then surely she would've been slammed for wasting public money getting a drug she might not need.

Thankfully my GPs' surgery is much better -- it's the one part of the NHS I've dealt with that actually works well.

ananikifo Sat 16-Mar-13 12:42:56

Iamsparklyknickers: People have said upthread that friends who are GP receptionist were trained in medical terminology and prioritising. I was trying to say that whilst they may have that training it is not the same thing as being a health professional.

I'm an AHP in the NHS and in my department we don't even let our assistants (who work with patients) to triage, let alone admin staff.

PipkinsPal Sat 16-Mar-13 12:42:54

The Receptionist doesn't need to know why you need to see the Doctor for an appointment but we do act under Doctor's instructions. We are requested to ask for a brief idea if you wish a telephone call from a Doctor though. You should not run out of medication as it is the patients responsibility to order in plenty of time. I expect Doctor's do have people taking up an appointment because they have run out of medication which in turn prevents people who are unwell getting an appointment. Does your surgery have a pre-bookable appointment system in advance? If the way the surgery runs does not suit you perhaps you should find one that does. All you should have to do is go into the surgery of your choice and ask to register but you may be restricted by practice boundaries. However if the appointment was because of excess bleeding this in some circumstances cannot be solved in a 5 minute slot as an internal exam may be necessary. We are also requested to ask what the Practice Nurse appointment is for, not because we are nosey, but for example a depo injection is done in less time than a smear test and by booking a double slot for the latter ensures waiting times are kept to a minimum.

ubik Sat 16-Mar-13 12:25:51

"However, she more than likely is acting under the GP's instructions to ask about the reason for urgent appointments and not book for certain things or advise to go to A&E or call 999 (as an aside it's surprising how many people are reluctant to call an ambulance thinking they're wasting time with chest pain and shortness of breath - I think some people need reassurance it's ok with all the marketing about not wasting their time). In a normal situation running out of the pill isn't urgent, it's bad planning, so I imagine a lot of urgent appointments are refused on that basis. "

^^ yy this

Iamsparklyknickers Sat 16-Mar-13 12:14:22

ananikifo IME most GP receptionists are band 2s i.e. no medical admin training. Medical secretaries tend to be band 4s.

They might receive more training - in my trust they get one day a month - but they're highly unlikely to start being paid more for reception duties.

Iamsparklyknickers Sat 16-Mar-13 12:00:24

In the OP's situation, I agree the receptionist was an arse.

However, she more than likely is acting under the GP's instructions to ask about the reason for urgent appointments and not book for certain things or advise to go to A&E or call 999 (as an aside it's surprising how many people are reluctant to call an ambulance thinking they're wasting time with chest pain and shortness of breath - I think some people need reassurance it's ok with all the marketing about not wasting their time). In a normal situation running out of the pill isn't urgent, it's bad planning, so I imagine a lot of urgent appointments are refused on that basis.

What makes that receptionist an arse is the fact she thought she was in a position to comment any further than 'we can't give urgent appointments for prescriptions for the pill'. She was a dick for commenting any further than that and I would complain. Any decent person would have listened further and understood it wasn't a bog standard pill prescription issue, you've been acting on the GP's advice of 'this should do the trick - keep an eye on it' = it hasn't bloody worked!

The GP is for urgent stuff that isn't quite urgent enough for a walk in centre or A&E, what's the bloody point of them otherwise - longer term conditions are getting shifted out to community specialists more and more, nevermind the fact I'm sure GP's are getting charged for their patients rocking up at A&E now. Daft buggers.

Naysa please have a look on the NHS homepage and look for any sexual health/family planning clinics near you and ring round to find out who can take out your implant. There's no reason you should have to put up with it this long and have to keep faffing with your GP when there's such a simple solution.

ananikifo Sat 16-Mar-13 11:05:14

As someone said, receptionists triaging is one of the things that happened at Mid Staffs. There is now a huge push for quality in the nhs and I think we'll see this kind of nonsense reduced in the future. A medical secretary has training in medical terminology and perhaps done further first aid or on the job training but that is NOT the same thing as being a licensed health professional. Non-licenced professionals do not have the same duties,and oversight, and triage can be more nuanced than you think. (Ie, was op bleeding heavily, which is serious, or did she just let her prescription run out?) I would also point out that even if it's your own fault that you let your prescription run out, sometimes you need it urgently and it's not a GP surgery's job to punish you by making you suffer. They have a duty of care not to leave you bleeding or suffering just to teach you a lesson.

In the end though this sounds like a terrible surgery and I would switch to another one, whilst also writing to them about why you left, and pursuing the pals complaint. Just make it clear it's the surgery's policies (receptionist triaging and no booked appointments, forcing you to go to another clinic) that you object to, rather than blaming the specific receptionist, which will likely not be taken as seriously because she was just following policies.

RedToothBrush Sat 16-Mar-13 10:15:06

GPs need a kick up the arse if they don't have advance appointments. Thats absurd. No wonder people want to change GPs (but can't).

littlesos Sat 16-Mar-13 09:52:57

Are people not reading, some gp's do not do advance appointments. I can only make an appointment for the day I call. It isn't possible to make a future appointment even for repeat prescriptions.
There are no pre-bookable appointments ever.

lustybusty Sat 16-Mar-13 09:21:36

have the depo injection. Needs repeating every 10-12 weeks. My surgery releases appointments one month in advance and on the day. For non urgent appointments, they ask you to phone after 12. so, Monday of week 6, 12:30 (when I have lunch), I phone and ask for an appointment any time between Monday of week 10 and Friday of week 12 (iyswim). Always get told that all available prebookable appts have been taken. Call back next week. Repeat until Monday week 11. that's when I start calling at 8am. If you aren't listening to the phone ring at bang on 8am, you don't get an appointment. Most recently, I dialled at 8:03, the call got answered at 8:27 and there were no appointments. So this carries on till the day I am exactly 12 weeks after last injection, when I call at 7:55, just to have the phone ringing in reception at 8, and needing an "emergency" appointment. It's not an "emergency", I'd much rather the appointment went to an ill baby or whatever, but the only family planning clinics in my area that I qualify for (lots of single parent and under-25s only clinics) are during working hours (one on a Monday 11-12, one on a Thursday 2-4). And I'm assuming there's no guarantee of being seen in them...
So basically, I DO plan to go in earlier, and I'd love to book my appointment a month in advance (in fact, I'd most like to book the appointment on my way out), but its just not do-able! (Oh, and the surgery is on an 0844 number, which I have to call from my mobile as I am in work and don't want to be dealing with the "I need to book a contraception appt" phone call in the middle of my all male open plan office...)
Grrrrr, doctors!!

RedToothBrush Sat 16-Mar-13 09:19:06

When the CCGs come into force, GPS will be even more in control of whats an 'emergency' and whats not an 'emergency' - and what they can be arsed to treat and what they can't be arsed to treat. All about budget apparently apparently... though if you can't even get through the door to see a GP then the person making the decision about budget will effectively be the GP receptionist. And and god forbid you then decide to go to the Walk In centre instead. You'll get sent a shitty letter about how much its costing them for you for them being difficult to get an appointment.

I personally do not think that GP receptionists should be deciding whats an emergency or not. GPs ARE none emergency. If its that serious you can't wait, you go somewhere else.

If you refuse to tell a receptionist what it is about they can not make that call. A lot of people play down how they are if they are challenged - particularly more vulnerable people like the elderly, as they are made to feel like they are somehow being a nuisance. And sadly, its people who do tell the receptionist who are more likely to be fucked off in the system. More so than ever.

You should be able to get an appointment at least within the week at every GP surgery. If they are booked up for three weeks, that tells you one very simple thing. They have too many patients and not enough doctors. Its not acceptable.

coralanne Sat 16-Mar-13 09:10:49

The AIBU was actually should the OP email the GP and/or change her surgery.

I suggest if you have had the problem before then you should do both of these things.

In the grand scheme of things, it's not going to change theattitude of the practice or the receptionist.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Sat 16-Mar-13 09:03:51

Coralanne, you are so right. But people with these awful views about receptionists won't listen as they think they know better iME

coralanne Sat 16-Mar-13 09:01:59

Vicar is absolutely right.

I have several family members who work for GPs.

They all say that they have to put up with all the abuse from the patients when they have been told in no uncertain terms by the GP what they are to do.

My DS has worked for the same practice for 20 years.

Under no circumstances is she to put a call through to any of the Drs.

She is told to ask what the appointment is for. If she doesn't then she is berated by the GP who "Wants to know what the bloody hell does the patient wants"

Gps have come and gone from the practice over the years but basically speaking they are all the same.

Contrary to the general opinion that my DS is "only the receptionist" she does actually have a degree and 3 or 4 diplomas she has obtained over the years.

All relating to medical procedures and medical terminology. Also has had extensive training in what is regarded as an emergency.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Sat 16-Mar-13 09:01:21

Sounds like practice should have gone somewhere you could give details in private.

MrsKeithRichards Sat 16-Mar-13 08:57:55

I called one day asking to see the nurse regarding something I'd seen the nurse about before sw I knew she could deal with it (thrush) but was at a bus stop, not really wanting to go into details, so was refused an appointment!

NotTreadingGrapes Sat 16-Mar-13 08:56:05

I thought the OP's reason for wanting to see the doc was because she was bleeding so heavily she was using 1 night-pad every hour, more than because she had run out of her pill?

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Sat 16-Mar-13 08:52:50

Still, I give up. People seem determined to persist in misconception that if receptionists ask out of nosiness or being power happy, rather than because they're told to.

Then they wonder why the receptionist seems pissed off after they refuse to give the info, in an insulting rude manner.

Just maybe its because you have been rude on the phone, not because she is desperate to hear about your piles or whatever.

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