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To really despise Drs receptionists asking why I want an appointment?

(193 Posts)
ShapelyBingoWing Thu 17-Aug-17 10:42:14

I've been trying to get an appointment at my surgery all week. If I'd booked in on Monday, I'd have been waiting until a week on Friday to be seen, so the receptionist that day said to call at 8 in the morning for an appointment that gets released on the day.

By the time I've gotten through every single day, all the appointments have been gone. But after telling me that, I've been asked each day what I need the appointment for as though an appointment can be found if they deem my issue serious enough. And every day they've tutted at me down the phone when I've explained I'd rather not say.

I've finally got an appointment with my practice nurse today after she triaged me and agreed I needed seeing.

I get that receptionists need to prioritise, I really do, but I feel very strongly that they're not trained to prioritise based on very little medical information. And tutting down the phone is a fairly reasonable marker that they're not particularly good at the job they are trained to do. AIBU? Or just a grumpy sod?

I think I just wanted a moan.

2014newme Thu 17-Aug-17 10:44:06

They're trying to prioritise the most unwell patients. I find it helps to be helpful.

ShapelyBingoWing Thu 17-Aug-17 10:50:51

I find it helps to be helpful

And I'd be willing to answer any other question they throw at me. Just not that particular one as without my full medical history and medical training, they can't properly prioritise. They could ask whether I feel it's something that can wait a couple of weeks. They could ask if my issue is injury related and could be treated at a minor injuries unit. But they don't have the extensive training needed to prioritise based on medical need.

ShapelyBingoWing Thu 17-Aug-17 10:52:05

And definitely shouldn't be tutting down the phone when a patient explains (not rudely at all might I add) that I'd rather discuss my issue with a doctor or nurse.

grannytomine Thu 17-Aug-17 10:57:33

I agree but I suppose the problem is limited resources. It annoys me more in the surgery than on the phone. As an example my DD had a needle stick injury in the job she was doing in uni holiday. Back then you couldn't get testing for months, I think it was 3 months. So she goes back to uni and is ill and as she is upset she talks about the injury. Uni wants results when she goes back after the next holiday. Don't know why, back in the days of HIV hysteria so maybe they were going to kick her out.

So DD phones surgery for result and given all clear. Hooray everyone happy. She asks me to call in while I was out shopping and pick up the results for her to take back to uni. They hadn't had the result, tried to give me an old result for a UTI, I kept saying it isn't the test she had. They kept demanding that I tell them the test, I was giving them the date it was done, which surely would have identified it, but eventually had to say it was HIV test. Stunned silence from behind the desk and waiting room. I felt like turning round and shouting, "It wasn't sex and she doesn't do drugs." I complained about the "result" they had given her and my treatment at the counter. They chased the result and we got the result later that day (really negative this time.)

When I complained I was told, "Well you have to understand they are not trained to read results." My reply was, "Well why are they giving out results then." Never got an answer to that one.

chantico Thu 17-Aug-17 10:58:29

It's not diagnosis.

I'll be a check to see if it's something that can be handled by a different type of appointment e.g. - newly pregnant, you can refer to MWs directly; immunisations, specific clinics; family planning, now done by the nurse team; over-40 check up, nurse team; repeat prescription, may not need appt, receptionist requests doctor reviews etc etc etc

grannytomine Thu 17-Aug-17 10:59:10

Just thought my husband was asked why he wanted to see a doctor and was told he didn't need to be seen. He begged to differ. After a stand off he was told a doctor would phone him, doctor he agreed to see him. It is on his notes that receptionist is not to ask why he wants to see a doctor.

FrLukeDuke Thu 17-Aug-17 11:01:27

I agree it's rude of them to tutt at you

NoParticularPattern Thu 17-Aug-17 11:01:39

Granted they likely don't have the training, but often they have something like a flow chart that helps them decide on whether you need to see your specific GP or will any do, maybe even a nurse, how long the appointment needs to be, if they need to tell you to bring anything with you- urine sample or anything that could be related. Whilst it is within your rights to not disclose this information, it does help them to make sure you are seen by the relevant person for the required length of time. My GP and nurse offer phone appointments which I have found helpful when I myself have been unsur if I need a proper hands on appointment. Sometimes they will book me one or ask me to go fo bloods taken, sometimes they tell me just to keep and eye and book a routine one- keeping an eye on things and ringing again if the situation changes.

You don't have to give them the information, but if you do it might help you get seen more quickly or maybe get the chance to speak to a doctor or nurse about it.

Dina1234 Thu 17-Aug-17 11:04:11

Receptionists in the NHS are so ridiculously rude in general.

RatherBeRiding Thu 17-Aug-17 11:04:38

I get that it''s annoying, but they are not doing it to be nosey. They will be under instructions to try to find out if someone needs an urgent same day appointment or if it's something routine that can wait.

If I need a same-day appointment and ring to be told they have all been taken, I will briefly say why - horse-fly bite turned septic, nasty UTI and blood in urine, whatever. I always get squeezed in somewhere even if I have to turn up to wait till the end of a clinic session.

Unfortunately all GP surgeries seem to be under increasing pressure, and getting appointments urgently is a nightmare in many cases.

Gromance02 Thu 17-Aug-17 11:04:46

It is to stop the muppets ringing up with the flu or food poisoning getting appointments.

NC1990 Thu 17-Aug-17 11:04:53

At my surgery it's a 3-week wait for an appointment, to be seen the next week would be a dream (still not ideal, I realise).

Exactly as chantico has said, usually they will ask so they can potentially refer to someone more suitable, as I know a lot of people book to see their GP for UTIs or if they're newly pregnant etc. and often it's completely unnecessary.

ShapelyBingoWing Thu 17-Aug-17 11:05:30

I've had it in person too granny, it's mortifying. It's not helped by the fact I suppose that this is a small village and the receptionists are local. I don't want people to know about my medical stuff and I certainly don't want to be tutted at rudely or treated like I'm being difficult just because I'd like to keep my medical issues private.

catmumof1 Thu 17-Aug-17 11:06:13

YADNBU I've had to resort to 'it relates to my chronic condition so I am entitled (MN favourite phrase) to an appointment' if I don't want to tell the bitch lady on the desk any intimate details when she feels I don't need an appointment (she is actually a horrible cow who cancelled multiple appointments of mine when I needed MH help, had to send my mum in to shout at her blush )
But I rarely see my GP for anything other than my annual medication review or something non-private ie the shingles I had last year so it generally is to do with my epilepsy.

FloweryTeapot Thu 17-Aug-17 11:08:15

They ask so they can allocate you the most appropriate practitioner.
You now have an appointment with the practice nurse, not a GP.
Job done.

missiondecision Thu 17-Aug-17 11:08:25

They ask questions to filter you to the most appropriate member of staff, gp or nurse etc not because they are nosey cows.
Sometimes the gp or nurse has more specialist interest in certain areas and they filter you to them. If you can stop being irritated they can really help you see the best person for your needs.

gentlydoesit89 Thu 17-Aug-17 11:09:31

I called up once as I wanted to speak to my doctor about going back onto anti depressants, tried to skirt round the issue with the receptionist by stating 'mental health' related query, she wouldn't budge so I told her straight and she replied 'oh it can't be that bad can it?'
I think she was trying to be kind confused but I did kick off about it as at the time it was an awful thing to hear!

FadedRed Thu 17-Aug-17 11:12:37

You are complaining about the wrong people, Op. The receptionists are doing what the GP's have told them to. Complain to the Practice Manager or the GP's.

CaptWentworth Thu 17-Aug-17 11:13:10

Your notes are right there. If they wanted to snoop they could quite easily without having to ask you questions.

When I ring for an appointment they will often ask, but I get the impression when they ask that they just want to know roughly who I need to see. Especially for an emergency appointment. I think it's reasonable that you should explain why you need a same day appointment.

BeyondThePage Thu 17-Aug-17 11:13:23

You do know things have changed in the NHS, that a doctors' surgery is not just a place where you see a doctor now, that things can be dealt with by the doctor in person or over the phone, or by a prescribing nurse, or a practise nurse, or any number of different clinics held on different days, or by referral to a local walk in centre, or to a minor injuries unit.

This means someone has to funnel phone calls for "an appointment" in the right direction. If you give no information you just get shoved to the back of the line for the doctor - since I guess that is who you requested, can't be urgent or you would be saying so. If you would say what it is for then they may push you up to that day's list.

You don't have to be detailed. "Severe pain", "an infection" - or even "the pharmacist said I should see a doctor today" will suffice.

I see a doctor once in a blue moon - so when I ring up I say "I need to see a doctor today please" it seems to be taken seriously, and I do.

NoodleNinja Thu 17-Aug-17 11:13:58

If you want to be seen as an emergency (which on the day appointments are for) then you should give them some idea as to what the problem is. If it's something you are embarrassed about then you could be vague and tell them it's not something you wish to discuss with them but it relates to X or Y.

They are trying to get people seen to who need it and can often suggest a practice nurse/A&E etc if they have some inkling of what the problem is. They are not trained medical staff but I would guess they have been given instructions by GPs that if someone calls with certain symptoms then do whatever they can to get them seen.

In our practice I have been told no emergency appointments left that day but when I've explained the issue I've been offered to come wait in the surgery and then get seen to by whichever GP can fit me in between patients. I wouldn't have got that had I not explained to the receptionist what was going on.

On a different note though, I am only happy to do that with my current surgery because it's the way they deal with things that put me at ease. It's never forced, if you want to explain why you need the urgent app then they always do their best to help but if you don't work with them they can't help. In my last surgery we were always asked 'what's it for' when we asked for any sort of appointment and usually told no, that's not an emergency however my DS was admitted to hospital numerous times after being told by them it wasn't an emergency and were always short with patients when trying to get seen to. My parents are still with that surgery and they are STILL the same 15 years later. It all depends on the surgery, I suppose.

ShapelyBingoWing Thu 17-Aug-17 11:14:35

You now have an appointment with the practice nurse, not a GP.

I asked for either a nurse or a GP.

And to the posters who seem under the impression that I think they're being nosey, that isn't the case at all. But being asked medical information by non-medical staff and being tutted at 4 days in a row because I'd rather keep it private really is rude.

SapphireStrange Thu 17-Aug-17 11:15:47

I don't mind saying what the problem is, but tutting down the phone would piss me off. I'd complain to the practice manager.

AuntieMay Thu 17-Aug-17 11:16:02

The receptionists really aren't nosey! They have to ask, if they book a GP appointment when it's not needed they get a rollicking, if they ask he patient, patient takes offence they get get called all sorts - they cannot win - all receptionists are under instruction to ask why they patient needs a GP appointment tomorrow make sure it's the correct person they are seeing, and also to give the go a heads up on the the problem.
I work in a Gps ( clinical) and would not be a receptionist for anything! They put up with so much shit from patients it's unbelievable!

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