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To be irritated by Doctor's receptionist?

(74 Posts)
jellyfl00d Tue 29-Oct-13 13:49:06

I need to see my Gp this week, so I rang yesterday to get booked in, but they will only make appointments on the day this week due to annual leave.
So I rang again at 1pm which is the allotted time,only to be told their clock said 12.59 and I could not make an appointment. My clock said 1pm, we probably spoke for the 1 minute it took for her clock to get to 1 pm but she made me ring back, at which point I couldn't get through!! Arghh!confused

jellyfl00d Tue 29-Oct-13 21:08:04

Thanks Anyone for the insight, I might speak to practice manager as it's not an isolated incident.
Breatheslowly I have had that problem too, time must stand still for my surgery as well as yours!

EeyoreIsh Tue 29-Oct-13 21:16:56

I have to say the receptionists at my surgery are great. Shame the hours aren't great, their late appointments are only until 7. And they do the stupid ring on the day thing, it makes me feel bad using a same day appointment for something that isn't an emergency, but it's either that or an appointment weeks away.

FishfingersAreOK Tue 29-Oct-13 21:32:01

I am about to move surgeries and when I dropped the paperwork off at the new place I was somewhat confused to see so many PA signs dotted everywhere. Particularly ones which said "Don't blames the receptionists for x y z". "The booking system has not been designed by the receptionists so please speak to your GP if you wish to complain". It has not reassured me of an easy ride ahead grin

AnyoneforTurps Tue 29-Oct-13 21:42:35

If there is a practice with the perfect appointment system, I've yet to find it (if you have, PM me immediately wink). It's a numbers problem: GPs & practice nurses between them provide a staggering 346,500,000 appointments per year (average consultation rate = 5.5 per patient per year) but there are only 11,000 practices in the UK. There just aren't enough GPs to meet demand which is why all practices have ways of trying to filter demand. But that is still no excuse for making a patient ring back twice in the space of one minute.

Fakebook Tue 29-Oct-13 21:42:41

Oh I love my surgery and receptionists. I forgot to book my 38 week check up for this week and they've given me an appointment this Saturday morning with my regular GP so I'm seen. grin.

Sparkle9 Tue 29-Oct-13 21:47:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Ohwhatwitcheryisthis Tue 29-Oct-13 22:03:44

mine one kept me and ds waiting for an emergency app as he was having an asthma attack that was getting worse and worse. I kept asking she keeps saying you will have to wait. I also wanted to call ambulance but had other 3 kids there too. I was sat in front of her. Finally they started turning the lights off and the doctor came out with his coat on. He rushed me back in, called an ambulance. She stood there smirking. fucking cow. put in a complaint, she is still there. angry

Trumpton Tue 29-Oct-13 22:07:44

My doctors' receptionists are fab. I take my 90 year old MIL every few weeks and my DS has been severely depressed for some time and is chaotic about his meds and sick notes . They are always so helpful. I luffs them .
The appointment system does drive me potty as you have to ring on the dot of 8.30 for a same day appointment but can generally get one.

jellyfl00d Tue 29-Oct-13 22:13:35

Ohwhat, that is truly awful, that person should not be working in a healthcare setting if that's their attitude,

Does anyone have a docs where they have a nurse triage-ing phone calls to decide on appts? I was wondering if this works better than receptionist giving appointments?

lagerlout Tue 29-Oct-13 22:29:39

Don't get me started on them, Doctors receptionists are a breed of their own, I've yet to encounter a helpful reasonable one who actually listens and engages their own mind to solve a problem. I am saying this as someone who rarely goes to a doctor apart for straight forward routine things but have dozens of stories. I have been under Moorfields eye hospital for months and they want to keep me on some meds longterm. They told me I would have to get repeat prescriptions from my GP. I rang the other week to ask for prescription, all seemed quite straight forward, they even said it would be collected by local chemist. I spent 20 mins in chemist yesterday morning as they couldn't find prescription. I then went to the doctors to explain the situation, I got as far as I rang for a prescription and receptionist barked at me "we don't take prescriptions over the phone". I was a little taken aback as I did ring and they did take it over the phone and I rang a few days later to double check chemist had picked it up and this was confirmed. I explained all of this to receptionist who again didn't seem to register any of what I was saying and just said we don't take prescriptions over the phone. The big sign on the wall behind her did back up what she was saying but it still didn't make sense as they had taken request from me over phone. I started explaining again at which point she cut me dead and snapped what's your date of birth. I gave this to her and she said you can't have a prescription you have only just been issued one. I said you have never issued me a prescription before, I have had them direct from Moorfields previously. It turned out she was referring to the one I had requested over the phone which turned out was with the chemist when I went back over there. Before i left she read me the riot act demanding I come in and put all future prescriptions in the request box. I leave the house at 8am every morning and don't get home until after 7pm, this isn't practical for me, what is the problem with calling?

breatheslowly Tue 29-Oct-13 22:48:56

That's really annoying lagerlout. We can't ring for repeat prescriptions, but we can email which works really well for me.

runningonwillpower Tue 29-Oct-13 22:54:26

I always think that front line staff do not set the tone, they reflect the tone.

Receptionists would not and could not behave like this - not in a sustained way - without the backing of the establishment.

In short, if the receptionists at my local surgery were behaving unhelpfully towards me, I would have to wonder if the GPs felt similarly.

Dobbiesmum Tue 29-Oct-13 23:05:09

I always defend GP receptionists but lagerlout I swear I used to work with the one you encountered! She was a snotty baggage with a God complex too... angry
Having said that...
I know a lot of really good receptionists, the ones at my GP's are fab and lovely and frankly I always tried to be a good one myself. even though an awful lot of the patients were arses
It's not an easy job, striking a balance between following the rules set out to you by the manager and the doctors but still trying to accommodate the patients is actually quite hard. I would challenge anyone here, you know the usual mob that come out with the generalisations about the people actually doing the job to try it for a few days.
Try being threatened and spat at because a GP is on holiday. Try juggling 4 GP appointment systems plus the practice nurse plus the midwife plus the antenatal clinic and the phlebotomist. How about try being followed by an upset patient (who you didn't even speak to) and being too scared to go home until you found a policeman?
Oh and here's a good one, try finding out through a fairly impersonal fax that an older patient who you have known all your life and who was practically a second father to your husband has passed away and you can't tell your DH anything about it.
There are twats in every job, why are GP receptionists such an open target?
<opens wine>

Lottiedoubtie Tue 29-Oct-13 23:10:08

My GPs has a good system - although it does bypass the actual humans on reception a lot blush

You can book standard appointments online, and the system lets you see all available appointments with each doctor and categorises them into bands eg, 'commuter clinic' designed for people who can't go to the docs til after six PM (it doesn't actually check you ARE a commuter so it relys on good will, which I suppose is open to abuse).

Repeat prescriptions can be done online.

On the day appointments can be booked from 8 am but it's an automated telephone system, where you can choose an available appointment from a selection and also specify a doctor (you don't always get who you want but I've always got a doctors appointment within 4 hours of the 8am call.

And best of all when you get there there's an automated check yourself in touchscreen and even tells you which room/floor your doctor is in.

It's great, a really huge, busy city practice, but they get these things right.

NB- there are opt outs so the elderly/technophobes/people who prefer talking to the actual receptionists can still do this. Presumably they spend less time on hold because those that can use the automated systems do.

deepfriedsage Tue 29-Oct-13 23:16:16


pixwix Tue 29-Oct-13 23:25:21

Mine are brill - you can book routine appointments in advance with your own doctor - though if you specifically want your own doctor, you might have a longer wait, rather than with someone else.

If it's an emergency, I've never had a problem booking an appointment with a GP the same day - they might ask for a few details (like with me being asthmatic, they like to make sure they have a pulse oximeter ready etc - just to give them a heads up)

I've been going to this surgery for 23 years now - they have seen me through marriage, contraception, miscarriage, childbirth, postnatal mental illness, asthma, and all sorts - then also my children through their stuff too.

They are unfailingly helpful, professional and friendly, and on friday, attending with wheezing and needing steroids, I took the receptionists a tin of chocolates (and one for the back room of other staff) but the receptionists have always been brill - I couldn't do it!

Coupon Wed 30-Oct-13 00:09:06

YANBU. Nonsense is over-represented in the NHS.

Lukat Wed 30-Oct-13 07:17:23

Hi... Just want to say that i am a
Clinic receptionist and to be honest we have some rules which would make your blood boil...... But sadly we have to follow them as they are set by managers...... Sometimes I am tempted to say that "we are not being rude or difficult, it's the managers" but I would prob lose my job.

Isisizzie Wed 30-Oct-13 07:24:52

My doctors are great. They open at 7am to offer a walk in. If you arrive anytime before 10am you will be seen by a doctor that day. They also have other staff starting at 8am so I try to arrive about 8.05am and I usually get seen within 10 minutes. But if you get a popular doctor the wait could be up to an hour.

They wait for routine appointments is 2 weeks+ but I can handle that when its not urgent.

Phineyj Wed 30-Oct-13 07:31:07

I think that if a lot of this did not come from the rules and culture set by the GPs/practice managers, you would not get such wide variation in small areas. I switched from one GP to another after this sort of problem and my goodness the new ones are better. Same area, same high demand for services. I think if you can switch, do - if people were more proactive about it hopefully the PCT might eventually notice a pattern.

The thing that makes me most angry is the notices saying you won't be seen if you are late - the ones you have tons of time to read when they are running an hour late with no explanation grin.

EBearhug Wed 30-Oct-13 08:07:21

You can book online with my GP, too. You can either book a particular GP, or "any male doctor", "any female doctor" or "the duty doctor" for on the day appointments. If you need a follow up, the GP can book it while you're in the appointment with them. You can still book by phone - the receptionist just uses the same system, and it can still be difficult to get same day appointments, but there are only so many 10 minute slots in a day. And you can't book the nurse online if you need blood tests or the travel clinic.

But, lucky as I am, I realise this only works because it's a large, town centre surgery. In other towns, I've been registered with a doctor who practised alone, or small practices. You can't book "any female doctor" next week if she's the only one and is on leave. Flexibility only really works with large practices, and they're not always feasible in more rural areas (like those most of my family live in.)

Ggsoph Wed 30-Oct-13 08:18:04

I'm not a GP's receptionist but a very close family member is.

They haven't designed the system but they have very strictly enforced rules on when they can book an appointment. They are hideously understaffed and unsupported by the practice manger (who keeps setting them unachievable targets), many of the GPs will explode at them if they squeeze someone in or book a home visit which is not considered necessary. They also deal with abuse from patients every day, both over the phone and in person (family member threatened and stalked by a patient) They get in trouble if they book a non emergency into an emergency slot so HAVE to ask 'what is the problem?'

I'm not saying there aren't some utter cows out there who take pleasure in pissing you off - I've dealt with one who brought me to tears she was so mean - but most of them are just at the end of their tether and on the minimum wage.

If you don't like the system please complain to the practice manager and tell everyone you know to do the same - they are the ones responsible.

marriedinwhiteisback Wed 30-Oct-13 08:23:22

Interesting statistic anyoneforturps. What really gets me though is that rather than 5.5 consultations per year per person I reckon our family of 4 has three per year absolute tops. And every time it is a nightmare.

Our practice has run a few classics in the last 10 years or so:

Firstly the only getting an appointment if you ring on the day one. Everyone ringing at 8am for a non urgent appointment for an HRT check - made especially difficult when one has two children at schools in opposite directions who both need to be in school no later than 8.15. Effectively meant that one didn't have access to GP services at all for about three years until there was a change in government policy which highly trained people knew was absurd but in spite of being self employed said they had to follow

Secondly the 28 day prescribing business (I need thyroxine). Admittedly my practice prescribed for 56 days at this time. Might have been fine if the practice had been able to provide the repeat and send it to the right place but it was always three phone calls because it went to the wrong chemist, or didn't get done, or was in the surgery rather than the chemist. Thyroxine has a long shelf life, is as cheap as chips and in the end I made a dr's appt unnecessarily for every repeat prescription and when the drs started getting grumpy I wrote to the Chief Pharmacist at the PCT setting out my case and it got sorted out. I am as busy as my GP and don't work part-time and actually I expect my GPs to respect my time as much as I respect theirs.

The figures you quote make a bit of a mockery when compared to the very unsmart and time consuming practices assumed by many GP practices. It seems to be that it's perfectly OK to waste patient time from where I'm sitting.

Spidermama Wed 30-Oct-13 08:26:35

Some fun on this thread. I love the woman who phoned from the reception area and the husband with the sore dick.

There's definitely something about GP receptionists which makes for a petty officiousness making patients all feel like time wasting enemies of the NHS.

Of course this is a generalisation and some are lovely bla blah blah but in my lengthy experience they're in the minority.

Ggsoph Wed 30-Oct-13 08:26:53

Should add I only mention the minimum wage as I know people often assume they are paid more.

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