Thursday morning thoughts were forced onto the subject of our N.H.S. and in particular G.P. services.
Our practice now takes calls from 8a.m but before you say great it is still a nightmare getting through.
You can sit redialling until you are blue in the face getting the engaged tone repeatedly and when you finally get through all appointments have gone.
I did not ring until 9a.m today and was offered a late morning appointment today but still all was not well.
At my last visit the lovely young female doctor gave me meds and said to come back in a month.
The appointment today was offered with a doctor who leaves me rattled. If I am being kind I will describe him as a dead loss.
So I said to the receptionist I would prefer to see this other doctor.
The tone was brusk to say the least though said through a smiling face. I could tell.
I was told she would have to come out of today's appointments on the computer and go into another screen. Oh boo hoo.
I tried the friendly approach saying aren't computers a pain at times only to be told "Oh No" said in a condescending manner.
I suppose I should have said what I was thinking which was aren't you a pain in the backside but I resisted the temptation.
So we sorted an appointment out with the doctor of my choice and it is for a week next Wednesday!
Still my choice, in a way.
But wait what about the meds which run out today?
More smiling briskness before I was told said doctor is not in until Friday so ring back after 2p.m tomorrow.
Talk about making a mountain out of nothing and antagonising patients.
So the thoughts:-
* I worked at a G.P practice as a receptionist for 18 months in the late 1990's and know G.P's tend to set some rules for receptionists. I also know some admin staff are mean, power-crazed and rude.
* I put in a complaint to our practice manager some years ago when this same receptionist had crossed the line. She had been rude and more to me and patients even discussed how horrible she was. I came home from work to an answerphone message from my doctor to ring the surgery which I did. But this person was adamant she could not disturb him as surgery had started but that she would get him to ring me after 6p.m. Yes you guessed right she did not. So a complaint to the practice manager did the trick.
* I have been with this G.P. practice since the mid 1980s but during that time doctors have come and gone, retired and even died. One receptionist from way back however remains as if sent to challenge us all.
* Receptionists often put you on hold to tie up the phone and get some work done.
* Ours now also ask why you need an appointment and that is recorded. Is that for statistical purposes or what?
* Receptionists have access to at least one other phone line; the number is never disclosed to patients though some may do so to friends and family.
* As computer records are now kept why is there any delay re medication?
* Training courses for G.P. admin staff always stress how you should smile when speaking on the phone as it comes through. It does but callers can tell when staff are smiling through gritted teeth.
* Many G.P. practices are struggling to survive due to the Tory government's treatment of the N.H.S. Junior doctors work at G.P. surgeries on a rotation basis as part of their training.
* Ten years or so ago many junior doctors were considering going into G.P. work once qualified. These days it is a poisoned chalice.
You are at liberty to put in a complaint re your G.P. but you need to be cautious. You can be removed from a G.P. list with little recourse.
If you are older and or have various health issues etc you may find it difficult to get onto a different local doctor's list, especially one that is any good.
Me, I mostly have little to complain about re my G.P. practice.
However one receptionist ruins the experience for many and that is widely accepted for some reason; if a line is crossed again I will ring the practice manager and that option is always open for you.
One other gripe is the doctor who I have no confidence in is actually my named doctor now. I never signed up to this but as the practice grew and staff changes occured it somehow happened.
My big worry is that having paid into the system, now retired and with old-age physical challenges on the cards the N.H.S. G.P. system could worsen or even collapse. Sadly all age groups may have much the same worries and experiences
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