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Doctor's appointments

(222 Posts)
Santana Mon 04-Oct-21 12:23:17

Whilst I was waiting outside the pharmacy, a lady of mature years was having an intercom conversation with the doctor's receptionist next door.
She was being told that she needed to book a phone appointment with her doctor. The lady, leaning on her sturdy shopping trolley, explained in a loud voice, that this would not do as she had sciatica amongst other ailments, and she wasn't moving until she got a proper appointment. I wanted to cheer her on as she stuck to her guns and eventually got an appointment for next week Way to go girl!
A disgrace that we can't get appointments without a battle. And my GP practice is one of the best.

tinaf1 Mon 04-Oct-21 17:13:37

Good for her ?

Sallywally1 Mon 04-Oct-21 17:22:45

It’s frustrating I know, but please, please remember it is not the receptionists fault, it is the doctor’s decision, but the admin staff have to filter it down to the patients. It’s (partly) because of the aggression of some patients that medical staff and their admin teams are leaving the NHS in droves.

lemsip Mon 04-Oct-21 17:47:06

it's a waste of time to phone my surgery, I am able to go online to it and six boxes pop up with options, one being 'ask the receptionist......I ask for an appointment with doctor or nurse and get a reply within the day with an appointment within 10 days. I think that's quite good...

BlueSky Mon 04-Oct-21 17:52:10

Agree Sallywally the poor receptionists only do as instructed, and as usual, bear the brunt of patients’ discontent!

Doodledog Mon 04-Oct-21 18:12:20

It is very frustrating. Whereas I completely agree that we should all be patient with receptionists, some of them should try harder to be patient with us.

I rang the NHS call centre this morning to rearrange a telephone appointment that I had been sent (ie I hadn't made it myself). I will be away when the appointment should happen.

The clinic is now fully booked, and I have to wait a minimum of five weeks for another appointment. I asked whether the wait would be flagged with the consultant, as a further five week wait will mean it is months since we spoke (and tbh, I think we need to do more than speak - I have been diagnosed with Graves Disease over the phone, and am being referred for radiotherapy on my thyroid without having seen the consultant face to face), and the receptionist seemed to think I was being unreasonable for asking. She was quite indignant when she said 'Well, he won't be told about you specifically, no! The system only books ahead for 5 weeks, so it will be 5 weeks before you get another appointment.

I then rang my GP surgery, because I had a call from them on Friday asking me to make an appointment to speak to a doctor about some test results. I was told to call back at 8.00am to see if there was an appointment. I explained that I was responding to a call from the surgery, and she sighed loudly and repeated her words more slowly 'You will need to ring back at 8.00 am and see if there is an appointment.'

I was polite, but it's not on, really. That was two receptionists on the same morning, and both were rude.

IMO, telephone appointments are a travesty. I really need to see a doctor about my thyroid, rather than being given toxic drugs for months on end, then referred for a procedure that means I will be on drugs for the rest of my life.

I also find them difficult to work around, as finding the privacy to take a call (they never tell you what time they will ring) without being overheard or needing to explain why I am leaving the room is often difficult. An appointment is always one to one, and at a pre-arranged time, so is much better for the patient.

Septimia Mon 04-Oct-21 18:25:24

Doctors' receptionists have a pretty tough job on the whole, dealing with people who are worried and frightened about their health and who may be rude and even aggressive.

However, I have always found the receptionists to be somewhat obstructive and dismissive. If they were able to at least sound as if they were trying to be helpful, then patients might be more patient!

jeanie99 Tue 05-Oct-21 03:53:32

It is very difficult to see a GP these days, I wonder if we will get back to how it was.
I have to say though with regard to my GP their system uses the ask a GP which is a website where you explain what your problem is and the response you would like and who from. The GP then decides which patients needs a phone call that day or over the next couple of days based on the patients problem and their requirement.

FannyCornforth Tue 05-Oct-21 04:06:55

We got a home visit yesterday!

Early Tue 05-Oct-21 06:42:18

jeannie99 I don't think things will go back to the old way of doing things. The NHS wants GP practices to make more use of the kinds of online tools and systems you describe. This film about a day in the life of a GP explains more:

M0nica Tue 05-Oct-21 07:03:05

FannyCornforth, I hope whoever had the home visit is recovering, Home visits always seem to presage very serious illness.

Hetty58 Tue 05-Oct-21 07:03:23

On one of my rare visits to the doctors, a few years back, she asked to see me again in two weeks. Unaware of the new system, on the way out, I joined the queue at reception - and tried to book.

The receptionist said 'You book online or by phone now!' - then (rudely) looked past me at the next person. 'But I'm here!' I said 'I want to book in person, now'. 'We don't do that any more' she said.

At that point I got pretty angry (and stubborn) refused to move - said 'Right, OK then!' and phoned her on my mobile. (I did apologise to those waiting behind me but they thought the system was ridiculous too).

She duly booked me in, by phone, realising it was the only possible way to move the queue!

rosie1959 Tue 05-Oct-21 08:20:58

Hetty58 you do wonder at what point common sense was lost.

Hetty58 Tue 05-Oct-21 08:28:06

rosie1959, the system only works if we comply - I'm not good at that. I haven't been to the doctors for two years, so I'm assuming it's the same.

Hetty58 Tue 05-Oct-21 08:37:20

They phoned last year. Did I want the flu jab? Well, no, I was isolating - so unlikely to catch it - and much more likely to catch Covid on the bus to the surgery.

Same again this year. Yes, I'll have it this time - but at the local chemist, thanks all the same!

rosie1959 Tue 05-Oct-21 08:37:32

Me neither only go on average every 15 years or so

Teacheranne Tue 05-Oct-21 09:21:49

My health centre has just gone back to the pre Covid method of booking appointments which is great news - phone early in the morning for a same day emergency appointment or book up to two weeks ahead for routine ones..

They are still using telephone appointments though rather than face to face but for my current health needs that is fine. I am being monitored following a recent TIA and a phone call to discuss test results or hospital reports is fine. I go to the nurse for blood pressure checks as well as email in readings intake at home.

I actually complimented the receptionist when I spoke to him on Friday to query my medication, he was able to read a letter from the hospital which explained why one of my medications had been altered. Whenever I have phoned recently, they have been very kind and patient answering my queries. He was really surprised and pleased that I praised the team.

I just hope that when actual face to face appointments are necessary that I manage to get one.

FannyCornforth Tue 05-Oct-21 10:20:54


*FannyCornforth*, I hope whoever had the home visit is recovering, Home visits always seem to presage very serious illness.

Thank you M0nica

DH has been in hospital with pneumonia (^again^, I don’t think that he recovered properly from the last bout).

I spoke to my usual GP yesterday morning (rang at 7.57), explained what was going on (I thought that he needed more antibiotics), and she said that she’d come here around lunchtime!
You could have knocked me down with a feather, as they say).

She also had a student with her.
They were here for about 30 minutes and we’re both lovely.
Checked him over thoroughly, and he’s doing really well, bless him.

I do realise that our surgery is one of the best though, and possibly in a small minority.

A few weeks back, I realised that I had an infection in my leg; I rang them at 4pm; I emailed some photos of my leg; the emergency doctor rang me back; and hey presto, I had antibiotics within two hours.

I appreciate that we are very fortunate, I really feel for those who are struggling with their GP.

Mind you, the Rheumatology Department at the hospital is an entirely different situation angry

Juicylucy Tue 05-Oct-21 11:15:06

I read on a medical website that Drs surgeries are being encouraged to keep to phone appointments by being offered more money. I’m sorry but even though it isn’t the receptionists decision there is a way to deliver the news to a patient, and some are damn right rude, the power has gone to there heads.

Shirlb Tue 05-Oct-21 11:15:15

Been like that for years ?so much for wonderful NHS!!!!

Naninka Tue 05-Oct-21 11:16:58

Ours have recently changed the system. Ring at 8am for a telephone appointment that day. Great if you can get through....

Naninka Tue 05-Oct-21 11:17:40

Btw, our receptionists are really lovely and, no, I'm not one of them nor do I know any of them personally.

Foxyferret Tue 05-Oct-21 11:18:05

There have been several cases in the papers where people have died after being diagnosed over the phone. Some serious cases really do need a face to face appointment

lincolnimp Tue 05-Oct-21 11:19:46

A close friend of ours was concerned about a lump that appeared on his leg.
When it got no better after a few days he phoned for a GP appoinrment

"No appointments, phone tomorrow at 8.00am"
He did this for three consecutive days, still no appointments, being in a queue each time at 8.00am.
His son and paramedic girlfriend visited.
One look at the lump and sons gf sent him straight to A&E.
He has non hodgkin's lymphoma.
Not sure what would have happened if son and gf hadn't visited

LinDe Tue 05-Oct-21 11:20:45

I worked as a GP Receptionist for a year before the pandemic, and I really loved the interaction with the patients and trying to help as much as I could, but is a very demanding job with a lot of multitasking skills needed. I left because the practice manager was a really unpleasant person and I felt that at my age I didn't need to put up with it. So did a lot of other people who worked there, and left!