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to expect hospital reception staff to be polite and vaguely competent?

(28 Posts)
EffiePerine Thu 21-Aug-08 15:35:24

All the medical staff I've seen at my local hospital for 2 pregnancies and various A&E trips with DS have been fantastic. Helpful, knowledgable and punctual ( we rarely have to wait around for appointments). But I have yet to meet a receptionist in any department who is anything other than uninterested and dismissive. It would be nice to find someone who would prefer to talk to me than yap to their friends on the phone or gossip with colleagues.

AIBU? I would bet they aren't well-paid, but surely you wouldn't take that type of job if you viewed all patients as a complete waste of time?

jette Thu 21-Aug-08 16:08:24

Heehee!! I've always secretly thought that medical receptionists are uniformly miserable and wondered why.. the exception to the rule works at my current GP practice..

beattiepotter Thu 21-Aug-08 16:26:31

I have to go to the hospital for ante natal checks and all the receptionists so far without fail:
1. Don't smile
2. Don't say please
3. Don't say thank you
4. Don't look like they want to be there.

It is a stark contrast to the receptionists at the hairdresser, library, museum etc

EffiePerine Thu 21-Aug-08 16:33:33

it's the vexed sigh whenever you ask them to do anything that gets me

in contrast the receptionists at my GP surgery are really nice (even if they never answer the phone)

TheCrackFox Thu 21-Aug-08 16:36:01

As someone who used to work as a receptionist (in a hotel) it never ceases to amaze me how rude medical receptionists are. They also seem to be generally disorganised and disinterested in their jobs. They might not like it but they are paid to be helpful.

falcon Thu 21-Aug-08 16:39:06

I used to be a medical receptionist, and always tried to have a smile, be patient and helpful.

I do have my limits though, when I'm on my lunch break in town, please don't come up to me when you spot me and ask about making appointments or ask for medical advice or tell me about your latest health problem.

I've lost count of how many people did that to me, even at weekends if I was out shopping.

Lucifera Thu 21-Aug-08 16:39:31

yeah funny thing - it's the same at my GP practice. All doctors and nurses great, but reception staff have no people skills at all. I always wonder why they are not required to be nicer to the patients, I'm sure they would enjoy their work more and get better responses from patients if they were.

beattiepotter Thu 21-Aug-08 16:40:33

One receptionist at the scan dept wrote down my next appointment in my notes without consulting me about day/time.
When I said it wasn't a convenient day she scowled, snatched back the notes, made a big fuss about crossing out the old appointment, wrote down my preferred day (without checking the time was suitable) and passed back, all without a word.
It doesn't make the patients feel comfortable.
My GP receps are lovely though, I agree!

paolosgirl Thu 21-Aug-08 16:41:56

Completely agree. Why do they never a)make eye contact (this REALLY bugs me), b)smile and c)say hello, can I help you.

It's so basic a monkey could do it (although I'm sure there are exceptions, and I apologise unreservedly to you)

TheCrackFox Thu 21-Aug-08 16:43:45

My GPs receptionist tried to tell me that once you are past 37 weeks preggers that you no longer need to see the doc?! Beyond belief really. Told her she was talking nonsense and she got all huffy but did make an appointment.

choosyfloosy Thu 21-Aug-08 16:44:21

I think medical receptionist work is extremely, extremely hard and relatively unrewarded.

But so what? I'd agree with you, the good ones definitely exist but seem to be in the minority.

I think the attitude of staff in a job like this takes a lot of managing. It is incredibly easy in a small static team like a reception to get into a 'i'm not being funny but she was so rude' mentality where you are barely waiting for the end of the interaction with a patient before you go off and moan about it/dissect it with your mates, sometimes in the patient's hearing shock. It is a short step from that to thining you are doing the patients a huge favour by speaking to them at all, and that comes through pronto in your voice. Then all your interactions with patients, funnily enough, start becoming acrimonious because nobody enjoys being treated like a pain in the butt, and this justifies further moaning.

Managers need to be part of the team and rotate themselves through the crap shifts frequently to wash this attitude through the system.

Sorry it's a bugbear of mine this.

mazzystar Thu 21-Aug-08 16:46:44

I think it can probably be a bugger of a job.

I've been seeing a lot of doctors and hospitals lately and ave been treated with nothing but courtesy and good manners.

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Thu 21-Aug-08 16:50:16

I had this view until yesterday, when I had to take my DS to a London hospital and it was a brilliant experience. Helpful, friendly, eye-contacting receptionist, friendly, willing-to-talk-and listen consultant (the named one, not a locum or house man._ Construcitve discussion, treatmetn plan, follow-up appt.
All on the NHs, a two-week 'waiting-list' from referral to appt, NOT a life threatening condition, but one that needs attendtion - I almost thought I was in France. There IS hope for the NHS - I was a die-hard 'go private' advocator before, but this was as good as we have ever had private, and I am now a convert!

falcon Thu 21-Aug-08 16:52:36

I wouldn't say it was basic, it can be a very hard job believe it or not and there's a lot to juggle.

The practice I worked in had a huge number of asylum seekers(I've nothing against asylum seekers btw) which was quite a challenge as few spoke more than a little English and when registering them we quite often had cards handed to us with their name written in Farsi or Arabic which don't use our Alphabetic characters so getting that information was quite a challenge and took some time which did annoy other patients but there was little we could do.

Dr's didn't help either, we once had a locum who kept falling asleep in our kitchen and who got the patients medical records mixed up so he'd see Mr X who had diabetes with Mrs's Y's records who had asthma and wouldn't believe the patient when he said he didn't have asthma.

Of course we got the blame for that one.[hmm[

Sorry just ranting now, but some things are beyond our control, including us having to ask what the appointment is for, we're told to do so by the dr for many good reasons.

raindropsonroses Thu 21-Aug-08 16:54:31

Customer service doesn't seem to be a priority rather bizarrely.
You do come across the occasional well-mannered, nice hospital receptionist, but they are definitely in the minority.
Why do they seem to dislike all the people they are dealing with - it is so wrong.angry

falcon Thu 21-Aug-08 16:58:28

I think the thing for patients to remember is that some things are beyond our control but we will try to minimise the inconvience, or at least a good receptionist should.

And the receptionist should remember, while not excusing rudeness towards them, that they are dealing with people who are sick, often in great discomfort, pain who may be very upset and worried about their condition or that of their children.

That they don't know how the system works, they may be worrying about possible consequences of being late for work or late to pick up the kids, therefore they're likely to be a little snappy and impatient and that it isn't personal.

It really helped me to stop and remember that now and again when I worked as a medical receptionist.

Sorry rambling on again.blush

raindropsonroses Thu 21-Aug-08 17:03:15

Surely they are aware of all that when they apply for the job.
There should never any be any excuse for bad manners.
The people I have seen interact with the receptionists have always been impeccably polite. Sadly this is rarely reciprocated.

falcon Thu 21-Aug-08 17:06:13

I don't think you realise what it's like until you're actually working in a medical centre. I certainly didn't realise how busy I was going to be or that I'd be juggling 20 things at once.

We've had plenty of rude patients, they aren't all sweet and charming, not that it's an excuse to be rude back either.

There are nice medical receptionists out there I promise.grin

pamelat Thu 21-Aug-08 19:24:03

I always thought the rude GP receptionist was a myth as my previous one was lovely.

At our new surgery there are at least 3 ladies who alternate shifts and they have all been rude to me.

I appreciate that they may not have 'time' to chat and I can imagine that some of the other patients may well chat throughout their wait (my grandparents being an example) but there should always be time for a please or thank you?

If they encounter rude people, why not only be rude to those in return. I have always been polite and friendly, I think it makes the situation worse!

mrsruffallo Thu 21-Aug-08 19:41:38

Customer service in general ispretty poor in GB.
But then , they are probably temps, thrown in at the deep end with no training and little more than the minimum wage

slightlycrumpled Thu 21-Aug-08 20:12:01

We see an awful lot of medical receptionists due to ds2's condition, and actually they have mostly been friendly and polite, apart from the stroppy woman at ENT outpatients!

I cannot get my head round that she works in a department where a good percentage of the patients are deaf or hard of hearing, and she cannot look people in the face so they can lip read! It really pisses me off!

<feel better for that>

notcitrus Thu 21-Aug-08 20:49:13

slightlycrumpled - seems to be an ENT thing. Until recently I thought there was an unwritten law that receptionists in audiology had to refuse to make eye contact and mumble, preferably in a foreign accent, along with not fetching patients who can't hear their names being called, and refusing to give out email or fax details for making appts. This was based on my experience of about 8 different hospitals.

I practically fell over in shock when both the receptionists I've seen at St George's took great care to communicate clearly - one of them could even sign!!

I've met a fair few snotty GP receptionists but given the aggro they get and the conditions they have (they can't magic appts out of thin air), I'm not surprised. The ones at my current surgery have the patience of saints - and if I call in the afternoon when it's less frantic, they're very helpful. In the morning it's very much "You can see this doc at this time. OK? Good."(hangs up) - as they deal with 100 people on hold.

Elk Thu 21-Aug-08 21:27:07

The receptionists at the Eye Clinic in my local hospital are great.
They have looked after dd2 as a baby whilst I took dd1 to the loo (she was potty training), they have bottle fed her as she was screaming during dd1's appointment. They also quite often let dd1 come behind the desk to make her own appointment on the computer and they always recognise us.

The receptionists in the ante-natal clinic were on a different plane of existence entirely as far as I could see.

PinkyDinkyDooToo Thu 21-Aug-08 21:52:08

Medical receptionists are actually not too badly paid compared to other receptionists. Especially Hotel staff, but then they are less likely to get complaints about them than hotel staff so that is probably why they get away with it

lojoesmammy Thu 21-Aug-08 22:09:19

I used to work as a medical receptionist. I would make sure that I maintained eye contact, and I always tried to give the patient the nearest appt, I could. I always asked what the appt was for, because I needed to place the patient with the right doctor/nurse, BUT I would tell them why I was asking, other wise it felt nosy.

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