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Really upset by GP's receptionist attitude

(203 Posts)
GrandmaTrisha Wed 05-May-21 12:00:42

I had my first vaccine jab via my GP's surgery on 11th Feb and it was the Phizer one. I am due my second one tomorrow 6th May.
On 22nd April, I received a text from them to ask me to book my next appointment but we had booked a last minute break for the following week, getting back on 30th April. I got another text the following day 'reminding me' to book this & I replied to say that we were away but that I would log onto the link every day to take the first appointment that became available after we got back. Up till now, they have run vaccine clinics on both Tuesdays & Thursdays so I didn't think there would be a problem with this.
I know they are doing sessions this week because my husband who had the AZ one has managed to book an appointment for tomorrow.
Since I got the texts from the GP, I've logged onto the link every day as requested but no appointments at all have become available.
This morning I had to visit the GP's surgery for a physio appointment & my appointment was for 10:45. I got there at 10:40, rang the bell & was told by the receptionist to wait outside until the physio was free. I then received a phone call almost 15mins later from the physio to ask where I was as I was late for my appointment. I told him I had been waiting outside in the cold for over 15 mins! He came & let me in and as I walked past the receptionist, she just stared at me, no apology whatsoever for forgetting I was left standing out there.
On my way out, I took the opportunity to speak to this 'lady' to ask her when I could expect to be able to book a 2nd vaccine appointment as I couldn't seem to do this via their link only to be told ' we haven't got any Phizer vaccine, you will have to ring up next week & see if we've got any' I said I was concerned that my 12 weeks was up tomorrow but her reply was 'well, you aren't on your own' I asked her if I could book an appointment to get the job done elsewhere else to which she replied 'you can if you want to try but you won't know what vaccine they are giving till you get there so you could just be wasting your time' That appeared to be the end of the conversation as far as she was concerned.
I fully understand that had I not been on holiday, then an appointment may have been available but it was this woman's whole dismissive and lmost rude attitude towards me that upset me, almost as if I was just a nuisance.
I got home in tears & will just have to play the waiting game now.

EllanVannin Wed 05-May-21 12:12:01

What a shocking attitude. We're all different I know but I'd have come right back at her. There's no need for any receptionist to treat anyone like that and for what it's worth I'd tell the GP when you next see him/ her.

MayBee70 Wed 05-May-21 12:14:32

I think that the surgery probably don’t know when they’re getting the Pfizer vaccine because of the difficulties of freezer temperatures etc and it’s probably doing their heads in not knowing if and when they will have supplies. The Astra Zeneca vaccine is much easier to deal with. I’m not excusing her. I used to be a NHS receptionist and some of my colleagues were horrible to people. I wouldn’t worry about the spacing between vaccines, the AZ one in particular is works better with a longer gap. I had 11 weeks between mine and I would have preferred a longer gap. It’s very stressful going for appointments these days isn’t it. I don’t go out much and have just had a dental appointment. I get really flustered about even simple things like using my credit card etc and got home thinking that everyone must think I’m a batty old woman these days: it made me feel a bit tearful.

tanith Wed 05-May-21 12:16:01

Speak to the practise manager, how rude.

Vickysponge Wed 05-May-21 12:18:44

I would report her to the practice manager. What a disgusting attitude. There is absolutely no excuse to speak to you like that.

lavenderzen Wed 05-May-21 12:23:30

As others had said report to the Practice Manager, it is just not acceptable behaviour, just plain rude.

Puzzler61 Wed 05-May-21 12:24:10

I’m sorry your have been so upset by that unprofessional receptionist. Thank goodness they are the exception not the rule.
GrandmaTrisha if I were you I would write your grievances just as you have here, and send a formal complaint addressed “Confidential. For the attention of the Practice Manager”.
An apology would be in order, but at the very least an explanation about any problems with the supply of the Pfizer vaccine which you would find very useful.
? for you

Lillie Wed 05-May-21 12:29:23

That is poor and upsetting. I hope you have managed to put it behind you for now.
People can't cancel a holiday because their jab is due. There must be a way of re scheduling.
I've heard the bigger centres do Pfizer jabs in the morning.

Ro60 Wed 05-May-21 12:33:06

Apart from leaving you outside not telling the physio you were there I can't see the receptionist had an alternative.
She might also have been A bit miffed that you had been on holiday which she might have seen as against the rules?

I'm sorry it's left you feeling so bad. Maybe research into whether you want the AD vaccine?

Violettham Wed 05-May-21 12:33:22

Iwould speak to the Practice Manager

Ro60 Wed 05-May-21 12:43:12

AZ obviously ?

Doodledog Wed 05-May-21 12:49:45

Going away is not against the rules if you are with members of your own household in your own space. We have a caravan/lodge, and have gone there as often as possible during Covid, as a change of scenery. If there had not been that alternative I would have been looking at the same four walls for 14 months now.

I may be missing something, but I don't see any reason why someone else would get 'miffed' about this, although I could have come home to meet an appointment if one had come up.

eazybee Wed 05-May-21 13:15:21

Next time you have contact with this woman, ask for her full name and role within the practice, then write a formal letter of complaint and send it to the Practice Manager and possibly Head of the Trust, if there is one.

Bridgeit Wed 05-May-21 13:33:04

Turning this around, just think how difficult it must be for appointments to be booked when folks have other varying priorities, staff must be at their wits end trying to accommodate everyone .... I for one wouldn’t want to holiday anywhere at the present moment .

MayBee70 Wed 05-May-21 13:39:15

Can I just ask how many people have contacted their surgery to say thank you for their vaccine or praise a receptionist that has been particularly helpful? I had no end of presents etc when I retired and everyone told me how grateful they were for how helpful I’d always been but in over 20 years only two patients actually officially thanked me by contacting the practice manager.

Doodledog Wed 05-May-21 13:55:59


Turning this around, just think how difficult it must be for appointments to be booked when folks have other varying priorities, staff must be at their wits end trying to accommodate everyone .... I for one wouldn’t want to holiday anywhere at the present moment .

I think that the best way would be to let everyone know what the system will be to get their second jab, so that they/we can work around it. Life has been on hold for so long now that when people can finally make plans it is not reasonable to expect them not to make them.

From the sound of things, the OP was working on the assumption that the system that had been in place before she went away was continuing. Why wouldn't she? The receptionist could have told her when she called that it might not be possible to get an appointment, rather than saying nothing. Communication is so important in situations like this, and it sounds as though the lack of it has created the problem.

The second incident could easily have been human error in the first place, but there is no excuse for not apologising for leaving someone out in the rain for 15 minutes.

I agree with those who suggest that the OP write a letter to the Practice Manager. I appreciate that it must be tricky at times to be a medical receptionist, but at the same time, they are dealing with people who are likely to be worried, unwell and possibly a bit scatterbrained as a result. Their training should prepare them for this, and teach them how not to be rude.

Whitewavemark2 Wed 05-May-21 13:59:52

Isn’t there a way to report on the surgery through the NHS site?

Doodledog Wed 05-May-21 14:00:49

Maybee, we have been told not to contact the surgery unless it is an emergency. I doubt that the receptionists would be pleased to have the switchboard blocked with callers thanking them for their vaccine.

I'm sure most people thank the vaccinators when they get their jabs, and also the receptionist (if they speak to one rather than booking themselves in online) when they make their appointment. Why would they also call the surgery specially to thank them again?

Bridgeit Wed 05-May-21 14:04:47

Sometimes there is no option than to wait outside rain or no rain. We have umbrellas may not be ideal , but that is how things are at the moment .... the alternatives are worse.
Obviously those who are not able bodied enough to do so but who would still be able to receive home telephone consultations or visits

Rosie51 Wed 05-May-21 14:13:51

Bridget the OP was old to wait outside by the receptionist who clearly didn't notify the physiotherapist she had arrived and was waiting outside. Yes waiting outside is sometimes necessary, but being left outside and to then get a call from the physio telling her she was late for her appointment would be very annoying. Add in no apology from the receptionist.......

Puzzler61 Wed 05-May-21 14:18:33

My feathers would definitely have been ruffled at that Rosie .

Bridgeit Wed 05-May-21 14:18:34

Yes all good points , I’m guess we can only give opinions on our interpretation of what we read.

Jaxjacky Wed 05-May-21 14:21:12

I think being left outside was an unfortunate oversight and an apology was due, hopefully the physio had a word. I know our surgery are frustrated, they only know at short notice which vaccine will be delivered, 12 weeks on the dot is not essential. We have constant updates on the local Facebook page from our surgery, keeping us informed, asking people not to phone re vaccine enquires as they try to keep their essential services going and catch up from the last year. Yes, the receptionist was blunt, I imagine they’re getting similar queries repeatedly that they haven’t got the answers to.

maddyone Wed 05-May-21 14:22:35

I thanked the person (no idea if a nurse, paramedic, or doctor as they all wear scrubs now) who gave me the vaccine. I’m immensely grateful to our wonderful NHS for the excellent vaccination programme. I’ve had both my Pfizer vaccines now and the Hub which provided them ran like clockwork both times. The Hub has been organised by several GPs in our area.

GrandmaTrisha please don’t be upset by the receptionist at your practice. I’m assuming the words she said to you were delivered in a less than pleasant manner, as the words themselves don’t sound too terrible, whilst not exactly pleasant. She sounds dismissive to me. It’s not nice to be dismissed, but perhaps she was having a bad day. Keep in mind that you behaved politely towards her and you did no wrong. No need to cry or be upset, just accept it as one of the ups and downs of life. Take care.

dragonfly46 Wed 05-May-21 14:25:34

Indeed the receptionist was rude and there is no excuse for that but I do know people who have deliberately not booked holidays knowing their second jab was due. We are lucky enough to have been offered two jabs but I think it is unreasonable to assume you can have it when it suits you.
Storage of the vaccine is extremely difficult and the doctors are only allocated just enough for the second jab. It sounds like yours has run out of vaccine. Once defrosted it does not keep.