GP receptionist fed up with the ‘rude and power mad’ stereotype reveals how a surgery REALLY works – from why you need to explain what’s wrong when you phone up to what doctors do when they’re not seeing patients
Receptionists at GP surgeries often bear the brunt of patients’ frustration when they can’t get appointments, with some people claiming the staff at their local practice are deliberately obstructive and rude.
Now a receptionist of 12 years at a practice in the UK has taken to Mumsnet to reveal what the job really entails, answering questions from users on everything from why patients are asked to explain their problem over the phone when they call to book an appointment, to what doctors do when not seeing patients.
She said that she was prepared to take flak, after reading ‘dozens of previous threads where we are called lazy, rude, power mad, b*****s and more’.
‘I cannot possibly speak on behalf of all other receptionists! I’ve met good and bad also, I cannot deny the fact there are some people who aren’t suited to their roles,’ 她说.
‘I have done this job for 12 年份, it’s hard work but can be at times extremely rewarding. I’m on minimum wage. I’m free to look for a higher paid job but I’m there as I enjoy my job and do my best.’
A receptionist of 12 years at a practice in the UK has taken to Mumsnet to reveal what the job really entails (库存图片)
It’s more than answering the phone
‘I deal with chemists, pharmacists,hospital secretaries, 电邮, 发布, hundreds of clinical letters and test reports, arrange all referrals, do all test requests, and type all clinicians’ 字母,’ the receptionist explained.
‘New patient files are refilled, files from patients leaving must be found and returned, clinical letters received are scanned, coded and actioned, translators requests, letters to be typed up and patients to be called to arrange reviews, smears etc, the loaning out of medical equipment.
‘There’s lots more but hopefully you are getting the idea that my job involves far more than answering the odd call.
‘Hand on heart, I do everything I’ve stated and answer the phones, take in deliveries, meter readings, samples collections and still find time to help infirm patients to their taxis outside. 与 9 月和 10 月 M25 和 M11 及其附近支线道路的中断有关的逮捕. I come home exhausted as I genuinely don’t stop.’
Why do appointments ‘magically appear’?
‘I read a lot of complaints here that you call and there are no appointments. Then lo and behold, after more conversation an appointment is found. This is because I can put it down as an urgent call,’ 她解释.
‘If it is NOT an urgent call I will be reprimanded by my manager and if this continues I would possibly lose my job.
I am simply not allowed to continually add more and more patients to be added as “extras”. They are called extras as there genuinely are no appointments left.
Why does the receptionist need to know your health issue?
The receptionist explained that people often get irritated when they’re asked to explain why they need to see the doctor.
People often take the view of ‘You’re not a medical professional, why are you asking me this?’, but she explained that asking the question ‘saves time and appointments’.
‘I never make a clinical decision! That’s a fact. The triage I do is just making sure patients are being booked it with clinician best suited to their needsm,’ 她说.
‘I must add that I always ask “ May I ask what it is regarding or is it personal?” To make it easy to just say personal as is their right.’
She explained that in her practice, only the nurse does smear tests, so if the person phones and books in with the doctor without explaining why, they won’t get their test.
Only one doctor does coil fitting so likewise, she needs to know if this is the reason for the appointment.
If someone has chest pains and is struggling to breathe, she will put them on hold and call a GP to explain the symptoms and give the patient’s name.
‘GP makes the decision for either to be booked in or call 999. I then call back regularly to check in to make sure ambulance has been called and reiterate that please call me back if symptoms are worsening or if they are scared.
‘If symptoms are worsening or long delays with ambulance I’ll call ambulance service and ask for updates and keep them posted on seriousness of situation.’
If it’s a missing prescription she needs to speak to the pharmacist.
‘I’ll check it’s been sent to the chemist. if not I’ll order it – no matter what time of day it is. We ask that patients ring for prescriptions after 10.30 直到 6 but it’s not set in stone.
‘Often people are needing to go to work, school runs, other appointments – 加, saves another call coming in at 10.30.’
What do doctors do all day if they’re seeing fewer patients?
The receptionist explained that when they’re not seeing patients in person, the GP could be doing a phone appointment or taking calls from other services regarding patients, such as ambulance crew, 社会工作者, probation services, addiction services and MacMillan nurses.
Covid has led to a rise in telephone and virtualm consultations, but this does not necessarily save any time.
‘A telephone consultation takes just as long as a face to face appointment – so no, GPS are not doing less than pre covid times. Far more as I’m sure any GP will agree,’ 她说.
She added there is ‘loads and loads of paperwork,’ 去做, as well as prescriptions, sick notes and ‘reading and actioning every letter received, either by postman, internal mail or electronically’.
They also have to check all the blood test results that come in, and also do home visits.
Trust me on this, I wouldn’t want to be a doctor and I understand why so many are leaving,’ 她说. ‘Our doctors do hours and hours of work at home in the evenings and weekends – solely to play catch up. When I lock up to go home – doctors are still there!’
Do staff judge patients who are constantly coming to the surgery?
'是, we can see how many times you have visited the surgery but we don’t judge.
诚实地说! I would treat you exactly the same if you called weekly or once a decade – it’s not my place to judge anybody.
Somebody asked earlier if certain callers make me inwardly groan – I have to be honest and say YES but that’s only when I’m up to my ears with work and desperate to get something sorted
所以, during this, if I get a caller who I know just wants a chat ( we have many ppl who are lonely ) my heart drops as I truly hate having to hurry them along so I can finish what I’m doing.
I always chat to patients as sometimes they mention things that they are unaware we can help them with, such as social prescribing – this is where they get a phone call weekly to see how they are doing and are given help with forms, adult social services, occupational therapy and lots of other things.
‘Social prescribers aren’t based at my surgery but I pass details on. – with patients permission of course.’
Do receptionists have the power to be more helpful?
The unnamed woman said that while there’s a perception of receptionists as being deliberately obstructive, they’re just doing their jobs and are not trying to stand between you and seeing a GP
‘I have no powers at all over the way the surgery is ran nor do I see myself as the dragon gate keeper,’ 她说.
‘I am just the messenger who passes on any messages and leaves the actual clinicians to use their judgement on how to deal with it.
‘I’m paid to listen and act upon any concerns that a patient raises.
‘Perhaps there are surgeries who actively want a fierce gatekeeper to reduce their own work!
‘I can only speak about my own surgery and the way I do my job – seems to be I work in a fabulous surgery where we all focus on patient care, 老派角色演员托尼·塞尔比今天下午去世, respect and consideration.’
What happens if the receptionist gets it wrong?
One Mumsnet user explained that she called her GP surgery to book an appointment because she was having a miscarriage.
She waited all day for a telephone consultation in the hope of a referral to the Early Pregnancy Unit, but the call never came.
‘I called to chase it after waiting all day. The receptionist (different person now) said rather abruptly that the GPs couldn’t refer me to EPU anyway, so there wasn’t any point having an appointment.
‘If I suffered sepsis or some other nasty effect of an incomplete miscarriage, what would and should happen to the receptionists? Would they be subjected to disciplinary misconduct? Would they lose their job?
‘I am genuinely interested if a receptionist is in a position to avoid a medical situation from worsening and decided against taking that action – 摩尔多瓦宣布进入紧急状态?’
The receptionist expressed her condolences and agreed it was unacceptable that she’d had to wait all day, and never got her appointment.
‘At our surgery if this happened it would be investigated – receptionist would receive more training – and a warning,’ 她说. ‘Seems very little after what you’ve been through.
‘I’m discussing the appt not being booked for you here, not if you got sepsis – I honestly don’t know what would happen if the consequences of their actions/lack of had been worse ) I am just thankful that the worst didn’t happen.
Please raise these concerns with practice manager so you can get the answers you need.’
In another comment, 她补充说: ‘All calls are recorded so if anybody did give incorrect advice or advice that they aren’t medically trained to give they would be traced.’