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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”
“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”
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!