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To think I should not have to tell the dr's receptionist what's wrong.

(52 Posts)
Mittensonkittens Wed 16-Oct-13 16:18:35

So I rang for an emergency appointment yesterday as suspected ovarian cyst had ruptured. Most appointments are now emergency ones, you have to wait at least two weeks for scheduled ones, often three weeks.

I rang yesterday morning:

Me: can I book at appointment today please?
Receptionist: is it an emergency?
Me: well Id like to be seen in the next couple of days.
Her: but is it an emergency?
Me: well if I say no when can I actually get in with a dr?
Her: 1st November
Me: I'd like to be seen before then please.
Her (snootily); ok well what's the problem?
Me: I have a large ovarian cyst which is now causing a lot of pain.
Her: so how much pain would you say you're in?
Me: not as much as in the night but it still hurts enough that I'm taking painkiller every few hours.
Her: so it's getting better? So is it really an emergency?
Me: I don't know! Ideally id like to be seen in the next couple of days. I'm worried about it and I don't know if it can cause further problems.
Her: nor me, I don't know anything about ovarian cysts.

Argh! So why am I having this conversation then? It annoys me that I have to discuss this sort of thing with the receptionist, I suppose they are told to ask by the dr but seriously it annoys me. One of the receptionists is a parent at ds's school. I know she can access my information anyway but I just don't want to be having these sorts of conversations.


CheeseandGherkins Wed 16-Oct-13 16:19:36

You don't have to, they may ask but you can decline to tell them.

pianodoodle Wed 16-Oct-13 16:19:38

I don't mind as they need the info to pass onto the doctor but I do mind when I start feeling like they are trying to diagnose me themselves!

WorraLiberty Wed 16-Oct-13 16:21:41

You don't have to.

I just answer "I'd prefer to tell the Doctor" and they've never pushed it after that.

BrokenSunglasses Wed 16-Oct-13 16:21:41

YABU to think that they shouldn't ask questions at all. Unfortunately it's become necessary because of the amount of time wasters there are, and I think most people would rather be asked a few questions than be asked to pay for their appointments to weed out the ones that don't really need them.

Your receptionist does sound like she was being overly intrusive though, and unprofessional in the answers she gave you.

Mittensonkittens Wed 16-Oct-13 16:22:56

If you don't tell them they won't let you have an appointment.
I wouldn't mind but when you can't get in for over two weeks if booking in advance it leaves little choice if you are unwell. I didn't think it was an emergency in that I was likely to die but on the other hand I wasn't happy to leave it.

Sallykitten Wed 16-Oct-13 16:51:37

It's difficult. I have worked in surgery management. We had a lot of feedback about not wanting to have to tell the receptionist what's wrong. So we set up a telephone triage system.

If people come in for emergency appointments then rather than the receptionist making a call they are rung by a trained doctor from the surgery who will offer them an appointment following the triage if they deem it an emergency.

However a lot of people don't like this and see being called by the doctor rather than getting to see them is being fobbed off. There was a thread on here recently where a woman's daughter had a rash and she'd taken her to the doctors for an emergency appointment and refused the telephone triage and insisted that her daughter saw a doctor right now. It turned out there was no emergency, and this probably could have been ascertained through the telephone triage as she was not unwell, it clearly wasn't anything sinister.

But anyway, on that thread somebody who said she should have taken the telephone triage got roundly castigated and the general consensus twas that telephone triage by a doctor was dreadful and a fob off.

So you can't really please everybody, Drs appointments are finite, you have to give them to real emergencies, so they have to be assessed somehow. But whichever way you do it people would complain, it's impossible to suit everybody.

OoozingCervix Wed 16-Oct-13 16:54:46

see my thread fom earlier.

I have the same appointment problem. not a bleeding emergency but need to be seen before November 4th.

waiting for a dr to phone me.

Mittensonkittens Wed 16-Oct-13 17:00:19

I did see Cervix

The trouble is so many things fit somewhere between an emergency and being needed to be seen within a few weeks. I would have been fine with a telephone consultation. I just didn't like being questioned at length by the receptionist.

pianodoodle Wed 16-Oct-13 17:02:18

My new surgery has the system of a doctor calling you back if you think you need an earlier appointment.

I really like it! They ring usually within a couple of hours.

chrome100 Wed 16-Oct-13 17:03:48

I dunno, I don't really see the problem. They're just doing their job and if they found the whole thing massively embarrassing then they're clearly in the wrong profession. It's a bodily function. It wouldn't (and hasn't) bothered me.

Clobbered Wed 16-Oct-13 17:04:51

If you can't get the service you need, I suggest you insist that it is an emergency and then tell the Dr about the obstructive treatment you have had. The GPs will get the message and change their appointments system if enough people complain or circumvent the arrangements they have in place.

Mittensonkittens Wed 16-Oct-13 17:07:22

The thing is it's quite off putting.
Say someone with mh issues or depression rang up and felt they needed to be seen. The questioning could potentially put them off. I think it could stop people being seen when they need to be but other people will still go to the dr's for a cold.

lyndie Wed 16-Oct-13 17:12:27

As a GP it's helpful to know. When you have a screen full of callbacks I would prioritise pain, unwell child, very low mood to call first, and leave medication queries, sick lines etc until later.

spottymoo Wed 16-Oct-13 17:12:27

We were at a doctors like that and hates it everyone you rang for an appointment they wanted full details of why you needed an appointment.
In the end we left the surgery and was very lucky to find a surgery were you don't need an appointment.
Their are teo doctors that run surgery at two places.

8.30 -10 then 4 - 5.30at one
10-11.30 5.45 - 6.30 at another

It's great it's never busy as people know they can just turn up when they need an appointment you might have to wait a while 20 max is all it's ever been

Dobbiesmum Wed 16-Oct-13 17:16:42

Many GP's do get the reception staff to triage on the telephone, there's nothing the staff can do about it assuming they want to keep their jobs. if you have a problem with the system take it up with the practice manager, they're the best ones to deal with things like that as they have the direct ear of the senior partner.
It generally saves the appointment system from the cold and flu brigade and the general time wasters who want an appointment for simple things like a repeat prescription. If people actually thought about whether they need to see the doctor or not it would make genuinely ill patients lives a lot easier.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Wed 16-Oct-13 17:18:24

I won't discuss it with a receptionist.

Actually at our last surgery, they had a great system - pretty much all the appointments were same day, hardly any were bookable in advance. So it was really easy to get an appointment, it didn't have to be an emergency.

It did mean you had to ring at a certain time (one morning slot, one afternoon) and wait in a queue, but that was not really a problem. I

AdmiralData Wed 16-Oct-13 17:19:57

My gp reception staff ask just because they feel like it, my Dr stated that he does not require information from them before appointments. I was once treated appallingly when I phoned my gp surgery with a suspected miscarriage. Arrghh. YANBU.

Famzilla Wed 16-Oct-13 17:26:43

Oh I know what you mean, some Dr's receptionists round here have such a blunt manner that when they ask questions I feel like they think I'm lying or something. I would much rather just talk to a Dr but I guess they do have a lot of time wasters etc.

I've changed Dr's surgeries recently and now the receptionist screens you and a Dr calls back. I cared for the receptionists sister for years so I don't mind talking to her. Anyone else I would probably clam up and just insist on talking to a Dr.

SuburbanRhonda Wed 16-Oct-13 17:34:45

At our surgery the receptionists would always ask if it was a medical emergency. I always replied that I couldn't possibly say, as I was not medically qualified, but I would like be seen that day.

However, they now have an online booking system and you don't have to speak to anyone. Bliss.

cory Wed 16-Oct-13 19:09:28

I always feel our GP reception staff ask because they really care about their patients and would hate for e.g. an asthma patient to end up with the GP who has no specialist training in asthma when they have a very good and well trained asthma nurse, or for somebody's appendicitis not to get an appointment because the doctor is held up by a series of basic cuts and bruises.

No doubt it is to do with the manner in which they ask.

EnlightenedOwl Wed 16-Oct-13 19:18:41

Fine for her to ask what the problem is to allocate appointment accordingly
NOT fine to ask about your pain levels and comment on whether its getting better or not. I would advise what the problem is but I would not discuss severity or otherwise with a receptionist.

kali110 Wed 16-Oct-13 19:18:49

A lot do this now. You dont have to tell them.
Do agree with poster who said you cant please everyone. My doc now has the phone back system.
I do sympathise though, smallest wait iv had at mine is 2 and half weeks!

NoComet Wed 16-Oct-13 20:34:45

The problem has always been there is nothing between an emergency and the next two or three weeks.

All sorts of things aren't emergencies, but you don't want to worry about/be in pain with them for weeks.

Ending up using 3minutes of an emergency appointment to get a physio referral that could have been done by Email.

Our Doctors still use fax and going up to minor injuries on foot in the pouring rain, it's barking.

CrohnicallyLurking Wed 16-Oct-13 20:45:09

My doctor's surgery has telephone appointments, when you phone up the receptionist asks if it is something that can be dealt with over the phone, if you say 'no' then you get given an appointment for that day. So physio referrals, medication checks etc are done over phone.

They also don't have many prebookable appointments- you phone for all appointments the day you wish to be seen. Only once or twice have I not been able to get an appointment that way, but have got one the next day instead. And I have had a lot of appointments!

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