My Life With Adrenal Insufficiency

Why my GP Receptionist Drives Me Crazy


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Do you ever dread making appointments to see your local GP when you have health problems? Seriously! It’s no joke, there is not much I hate more than speaking to the lady at the reception of my local GP surgery.


Yes she is just another human like me but the receptionist often drives me crazy and makes me want to boil. Booking appointments should be so simple but more than often they are not. It bugs me to the core and today I’m having a good old complain.

The Phone Call- Day One

I get unwell and ring the local GP Surgery.

“Hello, can I help?”.

“Yes” I reply, “I need to see a doctor”.

“There are no appointments available for three weeks. You’ll have to wait three weeks”

“I’m sorry I cant wait three weeks”

“Why not?”

“I have an infection and it could cause me to have an adrenal crisis”.

“Then ring back tomorrow before 8am for an urgent appointment. Goodbye”

Senario One

The Phone Call- Day Two

I ring the GP before 9am

“Hello can I help?”

“Yes, I’d like to make an urgent appointment please”

“Why what is wrong with you?”

“Well I’d like to discuss that with the doctor”

“Well how can we know if it’s urgent if you don’t tell us why you need to be seen?”

“I have an infection”

“Well is it serious?”

“Yes it is. If I don’t treat the infection, I could have an adrenal crisis”

“Well if it’s that bad go to the hospital- goodbye”

2nd Phone Call- Day Two

“Hi I just rang up before and tried to make an appointment to see the Doctor”.

“All urgent appointments for today are taken sorry- you were supposed to ring before 9”.

“I did ring and you hung up before i’d finished. I rung back and have been on hold twenty minutes”.

“Sorry you will have to ring back tomorrow. If it gets bad  in the meantime you will have to go to the hospital”

Phone Call-  Day Three

“Hi, can I please make an urgent appointment”

“why what’s wrong with you?”

“i have an infection”

“Okay I’ll book you in – come at 10am and you might have to wait up to an hour”.

I finally get to see the GP on Day Three.

Senario Two

First Phone Call

I ring the surgery

“Hi can I please book in to see a doctor”

“why whats wrong”

“My infection has returned but I need extra steroid medicine as I have to double my medication with infections to avoid adrenal crisis”

“You need to ring the prescription line goodbye”

Second Phone Call

“Hi how can I help?”

“I need some extra steroid medication as I need to double dose due to an infection”

“I can issue that you need to see the doctor- ring the appointments line”

Third Phone Call

“Hi can I help you?”

“Yes I’ve just been on the phone with the prescription line and they said I need to see a doctor to request extra medication”

“Well why would you need this? Your repeat is not due for a few more days”

“Because I’m double dosing for an infection and my medication has run out early”

“Well its too late today, you’ll have to see the doctor tomorrow. Ring back before 9am tomorrow and ask for an urgent appointment.

Day Two

I ring and get an appointment. My GP tells me, you didn’t need an appointment for this, you could have just asked the prescription line and they could have organised this for you when you needed it.

Senario Three

I go to the reception

“Hi, i’m here for my blood test”.

“We don’t do blood tests on tuesdays anymore”

“Well I booked this in 3 weeks ago and got a reminder text yesterday.”

“Well we rang around everyone to tell them the blood tests were cancelled. Your phone number must not be up to date”.

“My phone number is up to date- you texted me yesterday reminding me to come in for my test”.

“well i’m afraid we don’t have any appointments available for three weeks.

“That’s not good enough” The hospital asked my GP to do the tests before my next specialist appointment. If i don’t do this on time it will set my treatment back at least three months.

“okay we will get the nurse” They go talk to the nurse.

“Sorry the nurse says you don’t need any blood tests”

“Yes i do, I saw the GP yesterday and she told me which tests i need doing today”

“one minute” they go and talk tot he nurse again.

“the nurse will see you in twenty minutes”

Seeing the Nurse

“can I please check your taking my vitamin D and Iron and Calcium levels today”

“No i’m just testing you for diabetes”

“I’ve already been tested for diabetes last week. The GP said she needs my vitamin D and Iron to see if my medication is working.

“Well its not on here.” “Actually it is and it says it does not need to be done until January next year”

“No the Doctor said I need it doing today – so the results are back before my appointment”

The nurse says no and I repeat myself 5 times.

“Okay I will message the doctor and check”

“Yes, the doctor does need all of the ones you said please go wait int the waiting room while I wait for the correct forms. I wait a further 20 minutes.

The Nurse attempts to take my blood and misses the vein.

“Sorry but I don’t want to try again in case I don’t get it. We will have to book you in another time. The next available appointment is in 3 weeks”.

“Can you not try the other arm?”

“No, I don’t want to in case I miss again and ruin it”

She refuses to try a second time.

“Look, rather than making me wait 3 weeks, can I just take the forms up to the hospital. I’ll go and do it there”.

I am given the forms and a 5 minute blood test has turned into a 1 hour waste of time and the travel to hospital and waiting time means it took a whole morning just to have a 5 minute blood test.

(By which time I feel totally sick and unwell as I’ve been up and about for longer than my body can tolerate).

My Thoughts

Now this is what it’s like almost every week. Being chronically unwell  is so frustrating as your always sick and seeing some health professional. However dealing with a poor receptionist can make me even more stressed and more sick than I need to be.

It’s not just me, it happens to so many other people. Yet I need to see the Doctor in that Surgery and it seems such a battle just to get into the doctors office to see them!

It would be nice if when I asked for an appointment, I didn’t have to discuss every little detail and symptom over the phone. It would be nice if the receptionist trusted the patients to know whether they need to be seen urgently or not. It would be nice if the nurse would listen to the patient instead of assuming they are automatically wrong.

I cannot understand the receptionists at my GP surgery or why they are incapable of listening to the patient. I think the staff must be under a lot of pressure. Maybe it has a lot to do with NHS cuts and budgeting. I do not know but the poor telephone skills and inability to listen really does affect people’s lives.

I guess if your not chronically ill every day, you might not go to the doctor as often as I do. Maybe the receptionist just get’s really sick of seeing chronically unwell people like me and maybe she finds us annoying. However as much as she probably can’t stand to see me, you know what, I really can’t stand to she or speak to her!

Complaint over

Angela x





  1. I can only imagine how utterly frustrating it must be. I very rarely need to see a GP, but even when I do I have to work myself up to making the ‘call of doom’ I’m no fan. Well done for getting it off your chest, lovely, hope you feel a little better for it and you’ve managed to rest up.

  2. GGgrrrrrrr…..I have the same issues with the GP receptionist too (but not as much as you have though). She likes to ASK me to describe my symptoms and I think it’s an invasion of my privacy. Then she would repeat loudly what I told her. I would be horrified as I am sure the WHOLE clinic must know what I had. And her answer would be I need to know if it was urgent?!?!

    I wonder if some of them become so jaded and indifferent to people, that it really becomes just a job and every patient is a number and hence, they “just follow the rules” with very little empathy? #bestandworst

  3. Ang its well annoying! I hate it when they ask you “is it an emergency?” well no not really because id be at A&E not on the phone to you lol but I am pretty ill because I wouldnt be calling otherwise haha! With Asthma too, like you there is always an underlying medical issue so you have to see a DR to be okay but they dont get it.. blaaahhhh xx #bestandworst

  4. It’s ridiculous! You would think they would know you by now and have some compassion and idea of what is expected. It sounds like poor communication is at the core of this. It’s amazing our NHS service but sometimes it drives you mad as well! Hope things gets better for you. Thanks for sharing with #bestandworst and see you soon x

  5. OMG! That sounds absolutely dreadful! I left you UK 6 years ago and remember getting frustrated with GP receptionists then but this sounds way worse.
    You have my full sympathy.

    1. Thanks. I do think it’s not like this in every single surgery. There are a lot of problems and issues within the NHS and many people are experiences issues due to added pressure throughout the British Health system. I’m glad people can relate and its not just me!

  6. That sounds horrendous! My old GP used to be like that and had no concept of chronic illness whatsoever. My new one does a walk-in every morning instead – if you want to be seen quickly you have to be queuing outside the door before 8am, which isn’t ideal if you’re like me and can’t stand still for long, but it’s better than trying to deal with receptionists!

  7. I think you should print this out and give it to your doctor. And then have a serious talk with them about the problem. This affects your access to care, and has a detrimental effect on your health. Your doctor needs to do something about it.

  8. Ug! They’re a unique bunch, aren’t they! Take their job as gatekeepers very seriously. But, yes, their demeanour can no doubt be attributed to workload coupled with, generally, a very annoying public. Too many people want to see the doctor when they have a runny nose, sore throat etc.
    Now, having just 7 minutes to tell a mardy arse doctor why you’re sat opposite him/her, is another blog altogether!
    Next time, say to the receptionist, ‘Are you content with your current employment?’ That should disarm them!
    Ps. Hope you’re feeling ok. x

  9. Oh gosh, sounds like you have a really rubbish go surgery 🙁 Have you looked into other options, are there any other surgery a that do things differently that you can transfer to?
    I’m very fortunate to be at a fab surgery that has a phone triage service. It doesn’t matter when you ring, you will always get a phone all back from a dr or nurse practitioner who can either deal with your issue or make you an apt that day.
    I don’t understand how so many practices can be so backwards like you’ve described. I’ve heard similar from so many others about their experiences. You’d think they’d learn from other practices that work well!

    Sending gentle hugs and spoons xxx

    1. It sure it (reception wise) but ive found a fabulous female doctor and I’m loving seeing her now. She is brilliant. It’s just getting past the dragon at the desk!

  10. Brilliant post. I suffer with gestational diabetes in pregnancy and once had a run of calls like this. She can’t let me speak to anyone to renew my prescription (for insulin!) I’ll need an appointment. No appointments for 3 weeks. No I can’t speak to a doctor. No I can’t renew it through pharmacy because it needs to be cleared by a doctor. But I can’t speak to a doctor. Or see one. For three weeks. Even though this is something I am already prescribed. Maddening! Hope the next time you have to call is easier!

  11. I have the exact same problem with my surgery receptionists. I hate making phone calls as it is but I dread making an appointment and it can take over a week at times to get booked in so I know the feeling! X

    1. Oh yes. It is a problem throughout the uk. So many people struggle to get appointments. It’s due to the nhs system being overcrowded and not working properly.

  12. This at be the most accurate description of receptionists I’ve ever heard.
    I swear some have total god complexes. my usual doctor has taken to just allowing me to prebook monthly appointment and put a huge note on my file so that I just deal with her.
    I couldn’t get an appointment recently and ended up in hospital because of it.
    As for the drug double dose, had the same thing to!

  13. Oh duck, I feel you. I have just changed my GP because not only were the receptionist utter unfeeling beatches, my doctor was a nightmare. To the point I just never went to them for a long time, his response to me on one of my visits while in a Fibro flare was “you’ve got Fibro, there’s nothing I can do for you, you’ve just got to get on with it” I have only been with this new GP and I have been told I have liver damage which is getting worse, this probably would have been detected sooner if my old GP had took notice of me and not made me feel Shite every time I saw him. Oh I’m sorry I’ve had to come to see you for the second time in a year, so sorry for putting you out lol

  14. Ringing the GP can be such a nightmare, I don’t know how suggesting an appointment in 3 weeks time for a current illness is ever going to be helpful! I really don’t think it’s people with Chronic Illnesses that annoy them though, I think it’s people who ring up with a common cold/something that doesn’t require medical attention that wastes their time and takes the doctors appointments away from those who need them. I’ve been in the call room at a GPs before and in the 5 minutes I was there they had at least 3 phone calls on the emergency appointment line that were simply trying to bypass the usual appointment system. I hope the situation with your GP improves, it’s awful to think that trying to see a doctor would actually exacerbate your illness rather than help! Xx

  15. That must be so infuriating! I got annoyed just reading that!

    I hate ringing for appointments for that exact reason, and I actually used to have really bad anxiety about making phone calls etc but as I’ve gotten older I’be had to put that to one side because unless you bug people it never gets done!

    I know there are procedures that these receptionists have to go through, but I honestly know a few that just don’t want to do their jobs, and it makes it so much more obvious that that is the case when you meet a goodun!

    Lucy xx

  16. My receptionist is just like this. When I was very ill after having Baby she would constantly tell me I didn’t need to see the dr/nurse despite being told by the hospital that I needed to see the dr once a week to have my blood pressure and medication reviewed or I could have a stroke/heart attack.
    They just don’t care about anything except making it difficult to make an appointment in the hope you give up!

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