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Really upset by GP's receptionist attitude

(204 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.

Visgir1 Thu 06-May-21 16:22:11

Yes write or speak to Practice Manager. My chum is one and she/ he will reply or should within 10 days, its just not acceptable. If everyone ignores the bad attitude will just carry.

jaylucy Thu 06-May-21 16:27:55

I thought it was part of the job description to a) diagnose over the phone with no medical training and b) be rude to patients!
I have no doubt she has had numerous people ringing up and being rude to her, but that is no excuse - and very unprofessional of her.
You could always complain to the practice manager about the way she spoke to you, but don't hold your breath for any apology!

maddyone Thu 06-May-21 17:56:54

Receptionists in any organisation absolutely should not be rude. However, we are all adults and if someone is rude to us we can either 1) tell them their attitude is unacceptable 2) complain to the organisation about them 3) write anonymously on an Internet forum or 4) ignore it, and be the better person. Number four is what I would choose.
Doctor’s Receptionists take a great deal of stick from irate patients who want whatever they want and they want it now. Unfortunately some of them develop a thick skin, or maybe they arrive in the job with a thick skin already. They shouldn’t be rude but some are, so it’s a case of get over it. There are more important things in life to get excited about. Mistakes are another matter, and patients are right to insist that mistakes are rectified. A mistake such as happened to the OP was a very unfortunate oversight, but not life threatening. The Receptionist should have apologised and that should have been the end of it. She didn’t apologise, but without hearing her tone of voice, it hard to know how rude she was or wasn’t. The words themselves didn’t sound rude. The OP emailed and had the situation put right. That should be the end of the matter. We all have to accept life isn’t perfect and stuff happens. GP practices have been stretched to bursting point over the last year and all staff are stressed. Just be nice. Don’t look for problems. Ignore people who can’t be nice, and tolerate people in the the NHS who are stressed. They’ve had a more stressful year than most Gransnetters.

NotTooOld Thu 06-May-21 18:27:42


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.

Hi, Maybee. I know just how you feel about going out and about after such a long time, I feel the same myself - yes, 'batty old woman, has to ask which way up the card should be when you do contactless payment'. I think we will soon get over it, though, it will just take a bit of time to get used to our 'new' life. Sorry you felt tearful. Here are some flowers for you. flowers

rafichagran Thu 06-May-21 18:50:39

I have worked the whole of covid, out of that only 2 months from home.
It was stressful, but I was was not rude or abrupt with the people I was dealing with. I was doing a more stressful job than a Dr's receptionist. If I had been it would not have been tolerated and I would have been on a disciplinary.
No I do not accept bad behaviour from NHS admin staff why should I or anyone else for that matter.

MayBee70 Thu 06-May-21 19:22:24

Thanks NotTooOld. I even drove off and forgot to put my seat belt on! It doesn’t help that I haven’t had a haircut for months and look like Wurzel Gummidge either!

maddyone Thu 06-May-21 19:41:07

rafichagran I’m absolutely sure that you would absolutely not accept any rude or abrupt behaviour, and in addition I’m absolutely sure that your behaviour is always impeccable.

rafichagran Thu 06-May-21 22:38:39

Thanks Maddie clearly said with sarcasm, but I did get a reward and recognition for the work I have done, collected it yesterday.
Like I said upthread I am not perfect and in my private life I can be snappy, however. I am paid to do a job and I leave all that behind the moment I walk into work.
The NHS is a large professional organisation, and I cut them no slack if staff are rude to me, they are paid to do a job, not make sometimes vunerable people upset.

Supernan Fri 07-May-21 10:34:28

Speak to the practice manager

grannysyb Fri 07-May-21 10:35:02

I was a GP receptionist, can't believe how rude this one was, definitely complain to the practice manager.

NannaSue1 Fri 07-May-21 10:38:56

Don’t let her upset you ... she is not worth it ... I have had exactly the same experience with my doctors receptionists they aren’t at all caring! Put in a complaint and insist on talking to the receptionist manager to complain about the receptionists attitude and total lack of customer care. Try either the directgov or nhs website for other places in your area where they vaccinate

Nannapat1 Fri 07-May-21 10:40:45

Her rudeness may not be connected to your holiday. Whatever the reason for it, I'd make a formal complaint.

Lin52 Fri 07-May-21 10:41:17

This is awful, and hope you don’t let it put you off , think you should put in a written complaint to the practice manger, don’t bother telling your GP he has enough on his plate., and it could be swept aside by Practice Manager if nothing in writing.If no reply within 14 days take it up with NHS England.Then the Ombudsman .Hope this helps.

maddyone Fri 07-May-21 10:44:19

.....I cut them no slack if staff are rude to me.
I’m sure you don’t!

cc Fri 07-May-21 10:45:07

If you're due for your second vaccine you can have it in one of the "national" vaccination centres. To be fair, it's not their fault that they don't have the Pfiser vaccine, but her attitude stinks, as does her leaving you outside.
We've just moved and registered at a new GP practice, what a revelation, the receptionists are charming and helpful. If they can't help they tell you why and offer solutions. If you have a choice of practices I'd ask around and chose a new one. We asked our friendly local pharmacist to recommend one.

ginnycomelately Fri 07-May-21 10:49:09

Personally I’ve found accessing GP services a nightmare , tel calls 15 in the queue then not answered waiting up to 40 minutes then cut off , GP s , not going to their surgery leaving all the care to nurses or care assistant s , Abysmal care , There will be many more deaths from other causes than Covid ,

Twig14 Fri 07-May-21 10:50:45

I too have experienced this kind of attitude from a receptionist. My DH saw a consultant privately few months ago as the waiting time was horrendous to see someone in the nhs. He told my DH you must change your medication n I will write to your GP n get him to refer you to my clinic. He wrote but the practice failed to sort this out. My DH was contacted by the hospital as they hadn’t heard. He got on to the surgery only to be told it had been sent and experienced a rude receptionist. Again the hospital contacted saying not received. In the end after several upsetting calls I contacted the surgery and asked to speak to the office manager only to be told she wasn’t in. I said in that case can I book a telephone call with the Gp. I got it sorted after he called straightaway. The delay has caused problems n we now have to wait for hospital Consultant to contact on 26 May before he is accepted at the clinic. I realise that due to Covid things have changed but a simple telephone request to electronically send necessary paperwork to a hospital from a GP practice shouldn’t be a big problem. I suggest if this receptionist continues to upset you then ask to speak to the office manager or your GP. Your receptionist doesn’t appear to have good people skills and little empathy. Not good in an environment where people require support and a little kindness. Take care

Yorki Fri 07-May-21 10:52:17

GrandmaTrisha.... That's disgusting behaviour from a receptionist or anyone for that matter, I'd put in a formal complaint. If shes like that with you, she'll be like that with others if the mood suits her. It's unacceptable behaviour from someone who's job it is to practice common courtesy, this isn't your fault, it's hers and needs to be called out on it. I would've been upset and angry too. You never know, the physiotherapist had probably told her off for keeping you waiting outside and not informing him/her of your arrival and she took it out on you. Although that's unlikely, as it seems she was that way out when you arrived. She'd probably had an argument with her husband, but that's still no excuse for her appalling behaviour. Horrible woman she is.

JenniferD Fri 07-May-21 10:52:18

Most practices have a Patient Participation Group (PPG) which are meant to represent patients’ views to the practice and act as a ‘critical friend’ Some are much more active than others but if your practice has one, and the web site should have some information about it, it might be useful to contact that group too. I’ve been volunteering at a vaccine clinic and the vast majority of people are charming, even when the queues are round the block but there are a very few belligerent people. I’m sympathetic to some of the flack that receptionists get but only so far. If they cannot interact with courtesy and sympathy in normal exchanges with patients, then they should find a job where they don’t have to interact with the public. The receptionists are the shop window of a practice. Write a letter/email to the practice manager including dates and times if possible.

Granny1810 Fri 07-May-21 10:53:14

Charm school failed then. I have long said that NHS reception staff need to complete a customer service course as part of their training

Lesley60 Fri 07-May-21 10:54:32

I have to say you are not alone, I left my last Gp practice which I had been with for over 20years due to an extremely rude receptionist who for some reason thought she was medically trained.
There are a lot of very nice ones out there but I’ve also dealt with many rude ones who appear to have delusions of grandeur

JdotJ Fri 07-May-21 10:56:59


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.

I agree. I was a medical secretary for over 20 years, the last 12 in a very large practice with 12 GPs. Endless times it was me who arranged certain things for patients across the board, referral wise and only once in 20 years did I receive chocolates from a patient. I wasn't expecting anything as that was my job and I was more than happy to do it but I lost count of the times I would go into the reception area and in the Doctors admin boxes a 'small gift' had been left to thank the GP for 'arranging things', when it was me and the rest of the hardworking staff at the surgery who had sorted things for patients.

crossgranny Fri 07-May-21 10:57:30

GP receptionists think they are GOD.
My husband had a GP appointment a couple of months ago and was sitting in the totally empty waiting room. He took a photo on his phone to send to our son who is a GP in New Zealand to show him the situation with Covid. Madame receptionist marched round and gave him a dressing down. Luckily the doctor called him at that time. He told the doctor that he was in trouble for taking the photo. Doc chuckled and said 'take another on on your way out'

DeeDe Fri 07-May-21 11:00:45

No excuse for rudeness but they are under a lot of pressure at the moment and I think we have to do our bit to make it as easy as possible for them,
I think our surgeries have done an amazing job coping with such a enormous task..

Twig14 Fri 07-May-21 11:01:12

Totally agree with Ginnycomelately my daughter had to have a serious emergency op in January. Since then she’s had district nurses every day to pack n see to the wound. Two appointments to see a Consultant have been cancelled! She actually managed to see a Consultant this week who told her the wound would never heal as there was overgranulation. The district nurses have told us they are having to rely on their own medical knowledge as drs won’t visit due to Covid! Most are working from home n it now seems to be the norm to have a telephone consultation with the dr. The District Nurses plus paramedics who initially came to take my daughter into hospital were excellent n all risk their lives during lockdown I have every praise for them n sadly they don’t earn a great deal but they do their job n visit patients.