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Doctors receptionist

(76 Posts)
TrendyNannie6 Thu 18-Mar-21 18:15:53

Phoned up the other week for drs appointment, it is an ongoing problem, receptionist then asks me to explain what the problem is, I tell her, and lo and behold she comes out with oh it’s probably just a ........! I answer No! It isn’t, Anyone else ringing up and getting a receptionist diagnosing, It beggars belief

Blossoming Thu 18-Mar-21 18:21:10

No, though she generally asks what it’s about so she knows if I need a doctor or a nurse practitioner, for example.

Pantglas2 Thu 18-Mar-21 18:22:51

You’re complaining in the wrong place! The doctors need telling because they’re the ones who tell the receptionists to ask those questions!

Deedaa Thu 18-Mar-21 18:28:55

Forty five years ago DD started being sick. When I rang the doctor I was told that my own GP was on holiday but the receptionist said "Babies are always sick" and got one of the doctors to leave a prescription out for me. DD ended up in hospital with gastro enteritis and severe dehydration. Our GP was furious when he came back and I never had another problem getting an appointment after that.
All the receptionists at my current surgery are lovely, although it got a bit worrying when DH was really ill and they used to recognise my voice when I rang.

Tea3 Thu 18-Mar-21 18:33:32

I know a lot of people who haven’t a good word for doctors’ receptionists, and the odd one or two who speak warmly of them. Frankly, if they are not medically trained they shouldn’t even ask what the problem is, especially as an initial phone call from the GP has become the norm during the last year.

Kamiso Thu 18-Mar-21 18:37:51

Because of covid we had a message telling us that the receptionists were specially trained now and had to be told what our problem was. The NHS could have saved a fortune as doctors are no longer needed.

No appointments with doctors at our surgery. Everything is dealt with first by reception then the nurse, if reception deems it necessary. I assume the nurses are considered expendable.

My grandson has been seen for eczema at their surgery with no problems. We did get our flu jabs at the surgery. Probably because there is a payment for that!

Jaxjacky Thu 18-Mar-21 18:52:52

Kamiso I have had two face to face GP appointments in the last year, I have no serious underlying conditions. Both times I used the email facility, followed up by a GP phone call, then a face to face. So, to answer the OP, I’m unsure what part the receptionist played, or not, in this instance, I’m also very grateful as one was a breast cancer scare, with an appointment at the clinic one week after being referred.

TrendyNannie6 Thu 18-Mar-21 18:57:27

Yes Pantglas2 I’m aware the receptionists are told to ask what the problem is! What I didn’t expect was the receptionist trying to diagnose, doing the drs job 🙄

Tangerine Thu 18-Mar-21 18:57:54

I believe receptionists are told by the doctors to ask people what the problem is so I guess they have to do that.

I do agree with the OP that they shouldn't then start to diagnose ailments.

Gingster Thu 18-Mar-21 19:02:49

You’re lucky to actually get through to a receptionist. We hang on for so long and in the end it we get cut off. We’re not allowed to go to the surgery, so how on earth do we get to see a doctor.

Grandma11 Thu 18-Mar-21 19:10:40

Our Doctors receptionists are quite helpful and Good. The only time we once had a problem was with a new one who started working there. She was rude, uncaring, and had a real bad attitude, especially towards elderly people.
I reported her for refusing to accept my filled Sharps box despite it being fully labelled and properly closed, she told me that l had to return it to our local hospital, 5 miles away, which was totally untrue. She also had the same attitude towards my husband who needed weekly urine tests doing, due to having a nephorostomy fitted.
Needless to say that she didn’t keep the job for long, she was totally unsuitable to be working in a public service situation.

Pantglas2 Thu 18-Mar-21 19:13:42

But that’s my point TrendyNannie - it’s not all they’re instructed to do by the doctors. Until you actually put that complaint in writing to the surgery manager, nothing will change.

PamelaJ1 Thu 18-Mar-21 19:27:36

I have just contacted the surgery.
I filled in a form online with details of my symptoms and what I expected of the doctor.
I said I was happy to miss him out and go straight to a consultant.
Wonder if that will work? 😂😂
I expect the receptionist will read it first so let’s hope she doesn’t delete me.

FlexibleFriend Thu 18-Mar-21 20:11:46

The receptionists at our surgery always ask what the problem is and I reply "it's an ongoing problem and DR H** knows all about it and I'll only speak to him about it. Never been queried.

Franbern Fri 19-Mar-21 08:28:41

At my previous GP practice, in London, there were some absolutely great receptionists. Helpful and sympathetic. One in particular went way beyond to assist me, when I had a cystitus attack one Friday. She rang me early afternoon, to say that she had made out a prescription, but was waiting for a Doctor to sign this. Later that afternoon, she rang again to say no GP had actually been in surgery that day, so she had taken it on herself to arrange for a pharmacy near to me (and one she knew I could get to easily in my car and park close by), to fulfill this prescription for me and get the signature on the Monday.
It was she who rang me following the result of an MRI which showed I had a stress fracture in my spine, to explain to me what was happening, and new medication I would require, and to inform me that the Senior GP at the practice had taken over my case. Absolutely, lovely caring Lady - I still miss her now I have moved so far away.

Shropshirelass Fri 19-Mar-21 08:31:24

Receptionists have to ask questions to direct you to the correct practitioner but as far as I am aware they are not supposed to say what they think is wrong!

Ladyleftfieldlover Fri 19-Mar-21 08:37:09

We don’t actually speak to a receptionist at all! We use Engage Consult, an on line system which seems to work well. All messages are read by the duty doctor and we receive either a phone call or a text message alerting us to a new message from the doctor. If you need to see a doctor, that happens too. OH had to go in to the surgery recently.

BlueBelle Fri 19-Mar-21 08:47:00

The receptionist who get such bad press HAVE to ask what it’s about it’s a requirement from the doctors, so to be unhelpful in not telling them is really not very nice it and then gets to a control thing
Whats so wrong with saying it’s about a b c they are not being nosy they are fulfilling their role of a conduit between you and the doctor
However the receptionist in the original post did go a step too far and shouldn’t be diagnosing so she needs to be told that’s not acceptable
We now do an online form at my surgery and it’s way better the doctor either emails back or rings you at their appointed time and takes it from there I like this system and saves me two bus journeys

M0nica Fri 19-Mar-21 08:47:49

The problem in our surgery is that the first contact has to be by phone - if you can get through - and that is the problem - sitting for hours clutching the phone pressing the redial button, waiting for the engaged turn, cutting the phone off, pressing the redial button endlessly for hours on end.

notanaturalblonde Fri 19-Mar-21 09:01:57

I worked at a GP surgery for 16 years. The receptionists were instructed by the Doctor to ask what the problem was. This was to signpost the patient to the appropriate clinician. We had one GP who was previously an Orthopaedic surgeon so we could book/triage the patient with him if it was an orthopaedic problem. Various other GP's had their own specialist areas (eg Dermatology etc). We also had patients who would ring for a GP appointment who wanted a smear and we would have to explain that they actually needed a nurse appointment. So really they are helping to guide you to the appropriate clinician. I do absolutely agree that the receptionists should never ever try to diagnose or give their opinion as to what the problem could be.

Shinamae Fri 19-Mar-21 09:06:26

I only ever see my own doctor so he knows usually what I’m going about and when the receptionist asked what it’s about I say it’s personal and I will need to be spoken about with my doctor

Katie59 Fri 19-Mar-21 09:17:47

Nurse Practitioners are good for routine stuff, I remember when we had a district nurse in our village who was easily available and dealt with most ailments, when most hadn’t got a car or a phone. Can’t remember when that stopped.

Teacheranne Fri 19-Mar-21 09:48:33


You’re lucky to actually get through to a receptionist. We hang on for so long and in the end it we get cut off. We’re not allowed to go to the surgery, so how on earth do we get to see a doctor.

At my surgery, if there are a lot of phone calls in a queue, there is an option to press a number to get a call back when you get near the front. It seems to work well, last time I phoned I was number 33 in the queue so I requested a call back and was number 2 when the call back came.

Otherwise I put my phone on loudspeaker so I can read, watch tv or crochet while I wait!

BigBertha1 Fri 19-Mar-21 09:53:44

I had my first experience of the local GP practice yesterday. I rang to ask for a telephone appointment. The ansaphone message stated that the receptionist would ask the purpose of your call so I was ready but she was extremely nice. I said 'I would like to speak to a doctor about my **' and she said the doctor would call me back a bit later in the morning. GP was excellent as through as one can be in those circumstances - even had a little chat too. I do think you need to be direct and clear about what you are asking for.

Redhead56 Fri 19-Mar-21 10:02:31

I had a similar experience with a receptionist. I complained to the surgery manager who was equally patronising. When I next went to see the Dr I did complain he reckoned the receptionist thinks she is more qualified than him.
I don’t frequent the Drs much and since Covid it’s near impossible to see anyone so I don’t know if customer service has improved.