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New GP surgery - why can’t they all be like this?

(27 Posts)
suziewoozie Thu 25-Jul-19 08:42:08

A week ago, I’d finally had enough and changed my GP’s surgery. Fortunately I live in the town centre and have two surgeries equidistant. Why did I wait so long and put up with such poor service at my previous practice? It was nothing to do with clinical care and everything to do with a) the reception staff, who, if being rude, dismissive and unhelpful to patients were an Olympic sport, they would be gold medal winners b) the internal administration where test results, letters, queries got ‘lost’ c) the appointment system which clearly was predicated upon the surgery’s mission of preventing patients from making appointments at all costs.

My new practice has the most charming, helpful reception/ admin staff and an appointment system so far ranging, flexible and patient friendly it’s beyond belief. I’ve had one appointment so far and the clinical care was first rate ( as it was at my previous practice) I know it’s early days yet but I’m sure my blood pressure has already gone down. These two practices are completely comparable in terms of demographics, funding ets but couldn’t be further apart in overall service provision. Why oh why do we allow such differences to persist?

SirChenjin Thu 25-Jul-19 08:51:10

I don't know! I had the same experience as you a few years back - a new practice opened up a short walk from our house so I moved over to it after being at the other local practice for some years, and what a difference. Friendly staff, GPs who seemed interested, knowledgeable and engaged, well organised with appointments which run to time and which aren't only available 3 weeks in advance, and test results that are available whenever I phone as opposed to the 1-2pm window I had with the other practice.

My DD is at university in another town and she has the same dire experience I had with our first practice - but it is possible to have better.

petra Thu 25-Jul-19 09:03:12

Imagine how I felt. I joined 'this' surgery when we moved here. I can't begin to tell you how awful the reception staff were.
So I left and found the most wonderful Doctor. He was a one man band and the receptionists were saints.
Now my one man band Doctor has gone into partnership with the horrors that I left 😡
But at least I was able to tell them what I think of them through those texts that you recieve i.e. what was your experience like at your last visit. I let them have it with both barrels.

Teetime Thu 25-Jul-19 09:04:27

Its all down to leadership.

Teetime Thu 25-Jul-19 09:05:22

The fish rots from the head.

suziewoozie Thu 25-Jul-19 09:14:42

Yes I agree Teetime - I got the feeling at my previous surgery that the GPs wanted a quiet life and let the non-clinical staff run things how they wanted. When I mentioned appointment problems, on several occasions the GP said that they would bypass the system and make me appointment themselves but ‘not to mention it to reception’ 😮😮😮. On another occasion a GP told me how to make sure a message I needed to get to her would actually arrive without being diverted or ‘lost’ by reception staff. Why were the GPs putting up with this? I felt sorry for the salaried GPs who basically had no autonomy outside their consulting rooms.

RosieLeah Thu 25-Jul-19 09:18:23

No wonder we have a shortage of doctors if this is what they have to put up with.

suziewoozie Thu 25-Jul-19 09:22:34

I do think the increase in salaried GPs and proportionate decline in partners is probably relevant to this . One of the indicators that the CQC should publish is GP turnover. That generally tells you a lot about a practice.

SirChenjin Thu 25-Jul-19 09:30:49

I'm not so sure suzie - my last practice had GPs and admin staff who had been there for years. Coasting, it seemed.

I've worked for the NHS for 26 years and I will defend it to the hilt - the majority of staff are committed and hard working, but I'm also aware that there are areas where there is definite room for improvement.

suziewoozie Thu 25-Jul-19 09:43:06

Fair point SirChen. I had a county wide role once ( about 10 years ago) where I had much to do with GP practices and the overall lesson for me was totally unacceptable variation in provision and level of service and absolutely no mechanisms for learning from good practice. There were a lot of very odd shaped wheels being invented. There were also too many small practices being tolerated ( I think that’s changed now). I saw practices that were stunning wrt patient care - in one a GP would give his mobile number to a family where a loved one was very near death and he would be available 24/7 to go out to their home. Not that I think that should be expected but it was a lovely thing to offer.

EllanVannin Thu 25-Jul-19 09:49:57

Because my surgery is more or less on the doorstep it's one that I've stuck with for years-----since the early 60's in fact, though it's changed hands many times and not always for the better.
I think these changes put me off over the years because there's been no continuity and the few times I've visited there's been someone new each time and as a consequence I tend not to visit unless it's absolutely vital.

The " family " doctor has well gone as now you feel that you're on " a belt " like a factory and with just a 7 minute session or whatever it is, it seems a waste of time.This is why A&E's are full, many unnecessarily.

Right now I haven't a clue who the GP's are at my surgery. I only see the nurse for my 2 monthly INR's.

jaylucy Thu 25-Jul-19 09:58:41

The way a doctors surgery is run is no longer down to the GPs like it once was, but the practice manager and if they have a certain attitude, it runs through to everyone.
Actually, after working in customer service for over 10 years (and have the teeth marks in my tongue to show for it!) I would quite like to be the battleaxe medical receptionist - the way they are, is the way that they are spoken to by many of the patients!
Oh, and keep quiet about your "new " surgery - or others will be following you and it will end up as bad as your old one !!!

suziewoozie Thu 25-Jul-19 10:20:03

I agree that PMs and their attitudes are crucial - but who appoints and employs them? The GPs of course - they can’t deny responsibility for the ‘tone’ of the practice which the PM sets. And yes, some patients speak less than politely to receptionists -and some receptionists have truly deserved it.This was me the last time I spoke to a receptionist at my old practice - yet another complete cock up with my repeat medication - a problem that had gone on for months and was obviously all my fault for not knowing how to use the online system.

EllanVannin Thu 25-Jul-19 11:13:01

I did have words in the past over my repeat prescriptions, one in particular which was the warfarin. I'd given a weeks notice to the surgery that I needed them and in the end after a few blasts to the receptionist that their system wasn't working I went on to the chemist and made the collection myself. Surgery blamed the chemist and the chemist blamed the surgery. It was complete mayhem at first.

The owner of the chemist I've known for years and his parents before him so I knew it wasn't his fault----he hadn't received the script.

glammanana Thu 25-Jul-19 11:26:46

Same problem here with repeat prescriptions EV,the receptionist at my surgery will not order the prescription until she has calculated when I last ordered my meds if I am too early with the order she will leave it to one side(often getting lost)I have to ring my Chemist who is also a family run concern very close by and he will confirm if he has received it or not,I often have to call the surgery to arrange the prescription being sent to chemist such a mess at the minute.

SueDonim Thu 25-Jul-19 12:28:05

My 91yo mother is fuming after her interaction with her GP surgery yesterday. She takes blood pressure tablets and normally they are delivered to her at regular intervals from a chemist, she doesn't need to do anything.

This month they didnt arrive so she chased it up. There seems to have been some glitch in the system and the upshot of it, after a day on the phone, is that the surgery refused to give her a repeat prescription because she hasn't seen a doctor for two years. That is her fault, apparently, for not being ill! confused

Then she was put onto the practice manager, who asked her in a patronising voice if she could understand what he was saying to her? (Yes - she's old, not stupid.) Was she sure she had actually been taking the tablets? (Yes, because otherwise they wouldn't have run out!)

Eventually she was given an appointment for today (for which she'll have to pay taxi fares) and told to bring her medication with her - the medication she doesn't have because it's run out. She had to fish the empty packets out of the rubbish bin.

Her surgery used to be excellent but it's gone down hill rapidly. sad

Justme67 Thu 25-Jul-19 12:34:21

How many of you remember sitting in the doctor's waiting room, - not giving your name to anyone, just sitting and remebering who was before you, so that you did not miss your turn No appointments were made.

sodapop Thu 25-Jul-19 13:30:07

I remember those days too justme67 there were always some ancient National Geographic magazines in the waiting room.
It's actually not far removed from that at our doctor's surgery here in France.

suziewoozie Thu 25-Jul-19 13:58:53

I remember my GPs surgery like that in a small town in N Wales. The only surgery and everyone knew everyone. The hatch to to the receptionists was in the very small waiting room. One momentous day, I had to go the hatch to ask a very important question about a test result. I whispered my question - YES, boomed the receptionist, YOUR PREGNANCY TEST HAS COME BACK, ITS POSITIVE. The room had gone completely silent - the whole of the town knew before the father. Reader, I fled.

grannyqueenie Thu 25-Jul-19 14:14:28

suziewoozie when my children were small we had a GP practice headed up by an older doctor. He had a rather stern presentation but was through, caring and involved in the local community. Over those childbearing years he’d examined just about every part of my body, for one reason or another. Fast forward a few years and I applied for a job in a local project, guess who was chairing the interview panel!! blush I got the job, but management committee meetings felt awkward!

SueDonim Thu 25-Jul-19 14:20:15

Justme67 my son's surgery in London is still like that! You do have to give your name in at the desk but otherwise you just sit and wait. You'll definitely be seen that day.

petra Thu 25-Jul-19 14:40:46

An example of my lovely 'old surgery'
A few months ago I knew that my B12 3 monthly injection wasn't enough.
I spoke to the receptionist. She said leave it with me
I recieved a text to say that they would now be monthly.
All sorted without seeing my doctor.

suziewoozie Thu 25-Jul-19 14:43:38

Petra - such a sensible use of time

annodomini Thu 25-Jul-19 15:52:13

My practice runs a triage system. Today I rang up and asked to speak to someone on triage. A GP who was organising the service today rang me back immediately and asked how soon I could be there. I was there in about 5 minutes (by car) and was seen very quickly after I arrived by a very well informed GP, not my usual one, but just as helpful.
And, I may add, I have always had the best and most professional attention from the reception staff either face to face or on the phone.

SirChenjin Thu 25-Jul-19 15:59:46

My practice offers GP telephone consultations (a sort of triage I suppose) and I got a quick 5 minute call the other evening with her at 6.30. She booked a blood test for me when she was on the phone and it was done and dusted. We also have same day and 'in the future' appointments. When we get to the surgery we check in on a screen so that the receptions can spend their time doing more productive things. The whole thing just seems to work so smoothly.