BBC News: Receptionists ‘put people off seeing doctor’

Receptionists quizzing patients about why they need to see their GP could beputting some sick people off visiting their surgery, a survey suggests.

The above BBC article is worthy of a read but I feel like I need to add my two-penneth worth. Now I’m not one to bash the NHS, I believe it is a remarkable organisation that does many wonderful things, that however does not mean it shouldn’t be excluded from criticism when justified. There’s my get out clause for all the mental health service bashing I’m known

I’m currently with my 4th GP practice in 40 years and for the most part have had wonderful service from the Dr’s, Nurses and support staff. I have however, encountered some issues with some, not all but some reception staff. I understand they are there to do a job, but the ones I have had an issue with have usually been a certain type, keen to do all they can to make access to a GP or Nurse as difficult as possible. I’m not entirely sure if it’s on their own volition or under instructions from the GP’s themselves or the practise manager’s request. 

This morning the following tweet appeared having been retweeted by someone i was reading.

Now I don’t necessarily disagree with the treating them like I’d treat the Dr, I do afterall believe in treating people as I wish to be treated. Having said that if you treat me like an idiot I will return like with like.

The story I am about to tell happened in 1993 when I was 17. I had skipped the day from Sixth Form to finish (well start and finish) an assignment that was due in the next day. I’d been sat at my word processor for a couple of hours, busy bashing away when all of a sudden I had a sharp pain in my testicles that had me rolling on the floor in ao much pain I was struggling to breathe. It was the most painful pain I’d experienced in my life, it felt like someone had given me a good hard kick in the nuts. before I knew it, it had gone and I was back on my seat bashing away at the keyboard. Not long after returning to my work it occured again, same thing happened a few mins later everything was ok. it went on for 2 hours before I said to mum i needed to see the doctor.  Mum rang the surgery, a practice I’d been with since a baby and my parents years before me. Although it was late morning she asked for an emergency appointment but the receptionist was steadfastly doing everything to refuse. Eventually the bolshy receptionist demanded she needed to speak to me to decide whether I needed an appointment. 

I crawled to the hallway where the phone was and answered.She demanded to know why I had to see a doctor. I said “I’m in so much pain i’m on the floor struggling for breath til it subsides, until it strikes again”. She demanded to know where the pain was, I repeated that I wasn’t comfortable discussing clinical issues with a medically unqualified  receptionist. She demanded to know again, I reminded her that a phoneline is not the confidential environment of a doctor’s consulting room. Finally she threatened me that if I didn’t tell her there was no chance of being added to the list. At this point I had another attack, when it subsided I screamed down the phone

“It’s my fucking bollocks you nosey cow, they are killing me”

She agreed to add me to the list and decided to remind me she was not there to be spoken to like that. She really didn’t like me reminding her she was also not there to triage patients because she was not qualified nor was the environment confidential. Rather shittilly she huffed at me that I got my appointment and slammed down the phone.

When I finally got to see the gp, he examined me, and diagnosed me with Testicular Torsion, he believed it had untwisted but I needed to see a surgeon fo his opinion.When I saw the consultant a week later he confirmed the GP’s diagnosis and said I was lucky because it could have had fatal consequences. As a result he had me back a few days later to have a surgical proceedure to stop it happening again.

Now I’ve been bought up by my parents first that you only go to A&E if it’s an accident or an emergency or a GP has told you to go. I understand GP surgeries are under a lot of pressure, but they need to find ways to prevent their patients heading to A&E simply because they can’t get an appointment. One of those ways is to train the receptionists to be more curteous to patients and stop treating themselves as a triage service. I’m sure that day 23 years ago if I’d not screamed at the receptionist I’d not have seen my GP and a potentially life threatening condition may have ended up with a different result. Since that I have experienced similar treatment from other receptionists from other surgeries. Now I expect to treat them with respect, but I do not think it totally unreasonable to expect the same. 

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