Changing Times


I was chatting to a friend the other day and we were reminiscing about the “old days” and what our memories were as a child and how things have changed especially in our line of work over the years.

Mine was visiting my doctor as a child and just how things have changes so much over the years.

As a child I remember going into this great big house, (as a child I would have described this as a mansion) which was the Doctors Surgery, and where she lived. I can still remember so many details of that house, the grounds the house stood on, the big sweeping driveway that you drove in one way and out the other, the ivy climbing the walls and the great big red door to the main house – I always wondered what was beyond that door (this was the main entrance to the big house)

The Surgery entrance was at the side of the house, a smaller less obvious door and was black in colour. We would walk through the door and straight into the small waiting room – the receptionist sat in the same room behind a desk with one cabinet that held the notes.

Just one Doctor and one Receptionist, not even a nurse.

No fax machines, no computers, no scanners just a desk, a telephone with one line and one filing cabinet.

I used to think the receptionist was a nurse as she wore a white  coat. Confidentiality was unheard of as the receptionist discussed ailments with the patients and many personal details given at the desk for all to hear. Everyone would hang on to her every word as she spoke to patients on the telephone – often speaking names, addresses and ailments – no confidentiality at all – yet it seems to be accepted.

No radio or telly playing the background, no toys for the children to play with just a room with chairs and the reception desk.

I remember later on in years I went into that same reception area and as I approached the desk the receptionist looked up, beamed and said congratulations on your pregnancy – the room was full of people, and people in there that I knew but the worse for me was I wasn’t actually pregnant, she had in fact got me mixed up with another patient. It never entered my head to complain, to me a mistake was made and she was truly sorry when she realised her mistake. I wonder how that would have been handled these days?

We would then get called through to see the Doctor – as a child I was always in awe of her – she was old (or old to me as a child) but the one thing that enticed me into her room was the great big jar of jelly babies that sat proudly on her desk – if I was good I would always get a jelly baby before we left her room. I remember once actually getting 2 – I cannot remember if this was by mistake or if I had been particularly good.

The room was grand, it had big French doors opening onto a big garden, which would be wide open in the summer and in the winter months she would have a big open fire blazing away, not a fire guard in sight and her much-loved sheep dog would be lying in front of it. No Health and Safety issues back in those days.

There were no disabled access for patients in wheelchairs or any aids for people with special needs.

Training for patient care was basic yet then sufficient. Training for general practice was in its infancy.

Years rolled on and practices expanded and the new receptionist fared only slightly better. Often “sitting with Mavis” was accepted, the only method of training new staff. “Mavis” would tell the new receptionist what to do, showed her how to do it, and after a couple of weeks left her to discover the rest for herself.

The title of Practice Manager was practically unknown; staff were expected to learn fast, no doubt acquiring good habits as well as bad. The knowledge and skills for the role as the receptionist were picked up by trial and error, and some very inappropriate attitudes were acquired along the way.

Over the years the importance of general practice within the health service increased in leaps and bounds.

Practices grew in numbers; multi disciplinary teams worked under the same roof, the Practice Managers became an extremely important part of the Practice. Larger Practices would have a whole management team run what now has gone from a one-doctor practice into a Practice that could have many doctors’ nurses and numerous other healthcare professionals working together with one aim – Patient Care.

Patient care, confidentiality and health and safety became a vital part of our working day.

However, sadly, until recently, the methods of training Receptionists within some organisations have failed to keep pace.

It is now generally accepted that quality of care and job satisfaction go hand in hand. Staff need to know not only what they are doing but also why they are doing it – “sitting with Mavis” is just not acceptable anymore.

Receptionists must understand their role and how their individual job contributes to the care of the patients and the smooth running of the whole practice.

Receptionists need not only to be trained but also to continue their education and personal development in order to keep up to date with an “ever changing role.”

Training Reception Staff

  • Initial assessment should be part of the selection process before employment.
  • What knowledge and skills does the applicant have as a result of past experience?
  • Is the applicant flexible to fit in with the team?
  • Are the applicants knowledge and skills appropriate, and, if not, can they be modified by training and experience?

Training Programmes

Planning Receptionist training must take account information about the following:

  • What the Practice believes that their Receptionists need in order to improve performances and satisfaction in their daily work.
  • What new skills and knowledge the Receptionist needs to gain in order to cope with change.
  • What the Receptionists themselves feels they need/would like to learn in order to expand their skills.

Has your Practice moved with the times? Do you support your Receptionists with training?

 

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved
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Managers Training: The Other Side of the Desk


When managing staff it is always good to give them feedback. Yearly appraisals are a good opportunity for this but why leave it once a year?

Here is a little exercise I used to carry out on my Reception staff.

Sit in your Reception area at the busiest time of day. Observe what is happening in your Reception area – see how the receptionist deal with patients how they cope with the busiest time of day and how they copes with the pressure that the busy time can bring.

Put yourself in the place of a patient – see it from their eyes and ask yourself how do they see our Surgery?

Have a note-book with you and take notes – but the most important part of the exercise is not only to pick up on any negative issues but also highlight the positive issues too.

What should you be looking for:

  1.  Is patient confidentiality being broken? Can people in the waiting room hear conversations from the Reception Desk? Patient confidentiality it vital in any Practice – and more so at the front desk.
    People in the waiting room can often hear conversations at the front desk. Make
    sure you staff use as little personal information as possible. Make sure that
    all your staff has the appropriate training on Patient Confidentiality. (see
    blog on A Quick Confidentiality Checklist. http://t.co/S3E94mU8)
  2.  How does the Receptionist interact with the patients? Do they have good eye contact? Are they polite and always helpful? It is easy to be short with patients when you have a queue of people at the front desk. Training in dealing with such times is vital – train your staff in dealing with such times –
    how to move patients on quickly without being rude or appearing that they are
    not caring. A smile and a thank you go a long way.
  3. How does the Receptionist answer the phone? Is it answered quickly enough? Does the Receptionist deal with the call efficiently? Always make sure that your staff answers the phone with good morning/good afternoon – the name of the surgery and their own name. Staff than give their name takes ownership of the call more than those that do not give their name. Again, if they are in ear shot of the waiting room it is important that they remember Patient Confidentiality.
  4. What are the other staff doing whilst the busy time is happening – are they helping out?  Often in Surgeries you have Receptionists at the front desk and others doing other things such as admin, typing, prescriptions – have you got a contingency plan for such busy times – if someone is busy on the front desk or on the phone do you have someone who can come and help out for short periods of time.
  5. Can you hear conversations between Receptionists behind the desk? When the quieter times come Receptionists often will have a little chat – but they should be made aware to be careful on what they are chatting about – I had an incident where 3 Receptionists were discussing a TV programme that was on the night before. They were discussing the programme about Breast Cancer and about a lady having terminal Cancer – they talked in-depth about the programme – talking about people who had lost relative/friends to the horrible illness. What there were not aware of was a patient was sitting listening to them in the waiting room that had just recently been diagnosed with Breast Cancer – she found the conversation very upsetting. Whilst I was doing
    this exercise I also heard Receptionists discussing an issue that could have
    upset a patient in the waiting room.
  6. Is the Reception area being kept clean and tidy? It is important to
    keep your reception area clean and tidy. Not just for a good impression but for
    Health and Safety reasons too – magazines, children’s toys left lying around on
    the floor is dangerous – someone could easily slip and fall.
  7. Are the patients kept waiting for long periods of time (often a problem in surgeries) This unfortunately happens in every surgery. Observe how your patients feel about it – and how your Receptionists deal with the patients if they come back to the desk to complain/enquire about their appointment running late. Do you have a policy on Doctors/Nurses running late?Do you have a surgery policy about Doctors/Nurses running late?

After you have done your observation bring them to your next staff meeting.

I always find the best way to approach this is to tell your staff that it was not an exercise to “catch them out” but an exercise to find if and where improvements can be made.

Always start with the positive notes you have:

  •  How well you thought the receptionist dealt with a certain patient/incident.
  • How good their telephone manner is.
  • How lovely and tidy the reception areas looks.
  • How pleased you were to see others helping each other at the
    busiest time.
  • How good they are with dealing with confidentiality.

Then

If there are any (and I am sure there will be) go onto the negative things that you found – discuss them and ask your team to give their opinion. Ask if there is a better way it can be dealt with. Include them in any decision-making. Include them in your findings.

Staff do not like change so I always used to say – we can change it, try it and if it does not work we can look at it again.  This always used to work.

Make minutes of the meeting – ensure that you record any changes that are going to be made and ensure that everyone has a copy – including those that were unable to attend the meeting.

Turn those negative into positives.

 

© 2011-2018 Reception Training all rights reserved

The Importance of Receptionists Training


imagesCAFXOIRQLast week I held a training course for new Receptionists.

I am very passionate about staff training. As a previous manager I felt that I owed it to staff to give them the appropriate training when starting as a new receptionist, secretary or administrator and to also provide longer service members of staff with more advanced training.

After all you would not hire a mechanic or a chief if they had not had the appropriate training – so why should a Receptionist be any different, after all they are the ambassadors of your surgery and therefore you want them to get it right.

It never ceases to amaze how new Receptionists (and fairly often a longer servicing member of staff) know so little about their role – especially the little things that could make their role so much better, and in turn run a more efficient Reception area and how it could be better for your surgery and therefore giving first class Customer Care to your patients and customers.

It always gives me enormous pleasure to be able to share with the group my experiences; how I gained my knowledge I was sharing with them and tips on how to make their role so much more. How they can become a Receptionist that any Practice would be proud of to have on their team.

What do I base my training on? Simply from experience – I too once sat in their seat, not knowing some of the things that I am now sharing with them. I embraced my role back then with enthusiasm and was hungry to learn more. By doing this I was always first to volunteer to go on another training course, taking on my NVQ and achieving so much more. This all came about from enjoying the courses, learning from the courses wanting to learn even more and putting all of these things into practice. I am forever grateful that my practice believed in me. I hope to pass on that enthusiasm  that on to others.

From a receptionists I worked my way up to a surgery supervisor, and then on to a Manager with another practice. Every single step on that ladder was built on the knowledge that I had learnt the qualifications that I got and the experience that I had gained. You too might have a Receptionist that has that hunger to learn and climb the ladder – can you think of one at your practice? Or are they there but not had the right training for them or you to see the potential they might have.

You might ask yourself why you should give them training. There will be costs involved. Staff will be away their posts to attend courses and perhaps extra costs to cover their hours while they are away.

Investing in staff training is vital. If you cannot afford to send all of your staff on training course why not bring the trainer into your surgery – or better still train one person up in your surgery to then train the others.

What are the benefits of staff training?

  • Staff will value you as an employer by supporting them in this way.
  • Staff will have more confidence in dealing with issues that might arise at Reception.
  • Their job will have more meaning; it will be more rewarding and satisfying.
  • Their job will become more interesting – the more they learn the more they understand
  • They will be valued by your patients and customers as they will be able to offer a first class service.
  • They will enjoy testing and improving on their skills – and hopefully want to learn more.

What are the training needs of Reception Staff?

  • Receptionist Training (aimed at new Receptionists)
  • Patient Confidentiality
  • Telephone Techniques
  • Dealing with difficult patients
  • Basic Health and Safety
  • Disability Awareness
  • Team Leader training (ideal for those that are being promoted within)

 

Invest in your staff – well trained staff are confident staff

Fire Marshalls/Monitors – Basic Fire Evacuation.


The Principles of Fire Marshalling

Every Practice should have a fire evacuation policy – your Surgery should have a Fire Marshall or Marshalls.  The Marshalls or Monitors should have regular training and the full support of management in ensuring that all issues regarding safety are adhered to.

It is important that all staff are fully aware of who their Fire Marshalls/Monitors are in the workplace.  I suggest that you have a notice up stating who are the Fire  marshalls/Monitors for your Surgery.

Do you have more than one Fire Monitor/Marshall? If not what happens when your one and only Marshall/Monitor is away on holiday? In my experience is it best to have 2 – either full-time or part-time staff for each surgery and ones that most likely will work different hours from each other.

Your Surgery should be carrying out fire training at least once a year.   It is vital that staff know what their duties are in the event of an evacuation for their own safety and the safety of others.

Below are some brief tips taken from the Fire Evacuation Procedures that I had in one of our Health and Safety Manuals.

NON EMERGENCY RESPONSIBILITIES

Identify and rectify any fire hazards (i.e. blocked exits, fire equipment unavailable etc). Everyone should identity a fire hazard and report it to their Health and Safety Marshall/Monitor or their Manager.

Be familiar with your surgery’s fire procedure. Fire procedures may be updated when staff numbers increase, area changes or layout of the building change.

Ensure that you have a copy of your fire procedure available for staff – all new staff should be fully aware of your fire procedures. I suggest you should have a copy of your procedure in the staff handbook.

  • Your Surgery should hold at least 2 training sessions on fire evacuation session per year. It is important to keep a record of those that have attended. Those that have missed the first training session should be encouraged to attend the second session. It is vital that staff are familiar with your surgery evacuation procedures.

ALL STAFF SHOULD BE FAMILIAR WITH:

  • Action to be taken when discovering a fire.
  • How to use the Surgery Fire Alarms
  • Action on hearing a fire alarm and the procedures that they need to follow.
  • The location of fire extinguishers
  • How to use fire extinguishers correctly (outside agencies are best to use for this)
  • Procedures on alerting members of the public, temporary and attached staff.
  • Evacuation Procedure
  • Assembly meeting points
  • The importance of Fire Doors.
  • The location of escape routes.
  • How to open all escape doors.
  • The reason for not using lifts.
  • The importance of general fire precautions and good housekeeping.
  • Your policy on calling the emergency services.
  • Where there is a practice fire evacuation all staff, patients, visitors should be made
    aware of this. The reason for this will help reduce panic and possible accidents.

EMERGENCY RESPONSIBILITIES

 Every member of staff should be familiar with these following issues:

How to follow the evacuation procedure for the building.

Procedure for disabled persons. Disabled people can be considered as permanent and temporary such as, the elderly, people in wheelchairs, sports injuries, broken bones, pregnant women, persons with small children/pushchairs, all of these may need assistance to evacuate the building. (Please see blog for further info Safely Evacuating People With A Disability http://t.co/8InnNzSl)

Patients, visitors, and contractors will be unfamiliar to the surgery layout and therefore at great risk if a fire should occur.

People that may be working in areas with restricted exits.

If in the event of a fire it is very helpful if you can give a floor plan to the Fire
Brigade – this will help if they have to go in to search the building.

When carrying out Fire Training with staff quite often if you contact the local fire
brigade an officer will be more than happy to come out and talk to the staff.

If you have a visitor’s book ensure that this is taken out to the assembly point – this way
you can check if the visitor has evacuated the building. But this only works if
you ensure that your visitors sign in and OUT. It is useful to get contractors / workmen to sign the visit book for this purpose too.

PLEASE ensure that you have polices and procedure in place in the event of a fire.   

Practical Reception Skills for a New Receptionist


As a new Receptionist you will be very welcomed by your team. Do not be fooled at this new position as being a “nice little job” it is far from it. You will be extremely busy at times, sometimes short-staffed and occasionally come across grumpy patients (and sometimes Doctors). A Doctors Receptionist is like Marmite you either love it or hate it. If you love it you will have a job for life – but be prepared for hard work. But you will also find it very rewarding.

THE WAITING ROOM

The waiting room is the core of your organisation.  It will be the main part of your working environment as a Receptionist and is often the part of a surgery in which the patients spend most time: it follows that the condition of the waiting room can leave a great impression on patients, good or ill.

Before every session you could ensure that:

  • The waiting room is clean and tidy
  • Identify any hazards and report them immediately (health and safety)
  • Ensure that fire notices and leaflets are tidy and up to date.
  • Keep magazines and other reading material fairly up to date.
  • Ensure that there is nothing left lying on the floor that could possibly cause an accident.

FOLLOW UP APPOINTMENTS

If possible arrange the reception area in such a way that patients leaving the surgery must pass by the reception desk after a consultation. Patients are often preoccupied after seeing the doctor and, for example, forget to ask for a follow-up appointment.

PATIENTS

As a Receptionist you main duties will be dealing with numerous patients throughout the day. Remember the patients are the core of the Practice – without patients you would not have a job. You will have patients come into the surgery in person or speak to them over the telephone. You must remain calm at all times, be able to prioritise and ensure that you follow-up every task that you are given. If you are unable to do so then you must ensure that you pass on your tasks to another person or leave a message in the Receptionists message book.

People skills are a essential for this role.

TRANSPORT

As a receptionist you may be required to organise transport for a patient. Ensure that you are aware the procedures for arranging transport and how it works from the patient’s point of view so that you can explain these transport arrangements to them.  Please ensure that you are aware of your surgeries policy on calling 999.

Please see post on Does Your Practice have a 999 Policy http://wp.me/p1zPRQ-iz

APPOINTMENTS

Consultation by appointment rather than queuing in the waiting room is now almost universal. The purpose of an appointments system can be good and bad. A bad system means patients have to wait a long time for an appointment and become frustrated and angry. A good appointment system work to the advantage of both Doctors and Patients.

You as a Receptionist should be encouraged to feedback to the Practice Manager/Doctors in areas that you feel could improve the system. After all it is you as a Receptionist that will identify what is going well and not so well.

Encourage patients to cancel appointments when they are not needed. DNA’s (did not attend) is the biggest problem for patients waiting on appointments – if everyone cancelled their appointment if it was not needed it would free up many appointments over the week and the month. ALWAYS thank a patient when they cancel an appointment – everyone responds well to praise.

Most important remember to cancel the appointment off the computer screen – sometimes a DNA can go against the patient if it has not been taken of the computer screen – as some Practices record all the DNA’s. Some practices even write to Patients when they have had 3 failed DNA’s – and this has lead to bad feelings when the patients have in fact telephoned the surgery to cancel their appointments.

MAIL

As a Receptionist you will probably deal with the practice mail. Incoming mail should be sorted daily and date stamped and any enclosures securely attached – and if any missing items are identified this could be recorded and followed up with the recipient.

PATHOLOGY SPECIMENS

These are samples that are sent daily to the local hospital. Every specimen HAS to be labelled corrected – and this should include the patients name, date of birth and the time the sample was taken. Often busy Doctors do not enclose all of the required information – before the Specimen box is collected by the local courier please check that all the specimens are correctly labelled.

Usually results come through electronically but some Incoming results may still come through as a paper copy – these should be either scanned, or recorded in the patients records – your practice will have a policy on this. For all results than come through via the post they should be date stamped like a normal letter.

PETTY CASH

In Reception you will require to have a small amount of cash. Patients often pay for reports completed by the Doctor, for their passports being signed and often housing letters along with other items.

Ensure that you have change – not just notes.

All petty cash should be kept in a locked petty cash box and topped up weekly or monthly. It is essential that all money taken from the petty cash box has a record showing all expenditure and receipts.

Any money taken from a patient ensure that a recepit is offered. Record the monies in the appropriate place and also record it on the patients records.

AT THE BEGINNING/END OF THE DAY

As a Receptionist you may be one of the first into the building or one of the last to leave. It is advisable to have a check list of thing to do on such occasions.

Speak to your Supervisor/Manager and if your practice has not got such a checklist perhaps with your Manager you could organise such a list – this is particularly very helpful to all new Receptionists when they start.

Some of the things that should be on your list will include:

  • Doors and windows are closed – especially all fire doors.
  • All appropriate lights are switched off
  • Appropriate electrical equipment is switched off
  • IMPORTANT: Answer phone is switched over to out of hours service
  • Alarm is set.
  • Patient notes are securely locked away.

EMERGENCIES

A common source of anxiety to a receptionist is what to do when faced with an emergency. This can be very daunting to a new Receptionist but with good training and Practice Procedures and Polices you will soon become skilled in dealing with such emergencies.

As a Receptionist you may be required to learn basic first aid. Your practice will arrange such training for you.

It may seem very daunting when you first start as a Receptionist – but no one expects you to know everything at once. Take each day as it comes – shadow a fellow Receptionist and ask questions all the time.

In my experience in hiring Receptionist it can take up to 6 months before a Receptionist is really confident – but as we all know nothing stays the same and things within the NHS and Surgeries never stay the same – there are always new procedures and changes to existing policies so at the end of the day we are learning something new all the time.

Does Your Staff Wear Name Badges


 

Do you have name badges for your staff and what are the advantages of wearing them?

Wearing a name badge will help identify that they are a member of staff especially if your staff do not wear a uniform. These are especially useful in a large organisation like a hospital or a Nursing Home.

Why Wear A Name Badge?

Some staff are not keen on wearing a name badge but there are a lot of advantages of them doing so.

Discuss at interview stage that if they take the position that they will be required to wear a name badge.

Discuss with your staff at team meetings the importance of wearing their badges.

Think carefully before you decide what will be put on the name badges. For Receptionists and administrators I just have their first name and job title on the badge. Senior Management would have their full name and title.

Why just first names?

True Story

Many years ago I worked for the local council and we had to wear name badges which had our first name and surname on. One of the girls had an unusual surname and one of the customers took a “shine” to her – so much so he looked her home telephone number up in the telephone book and starting phoning her at home – he become so what of a nuisance and the police had to be called. The girl in question believed it was the name badge that had caused the problem.  

Another advantage for staff wearing name badges is to help all new staff. Have you ever been in the position where on your first day you are introduced to EVERYONE – and then the next day forget half of their names – even what their job roles are – there is nothing worse is there? Having staff wearing name badges helps in that situation and the new person soon gets to know who everyone is without having to keep asking “sorry! What was your name again?”

Name badges and uniforms can make your organisation look so much more professional.

Visitors / Contractors Name Badges

Anyone such as visitors or contractors that is going to have access to your Practice should be identifiable. They should be asked to sign the visitors / contractors book. This will be useful in the event of an evacuation – the visitor’s book will indicate people other than staff that are in the building.

It is important that when the visitor or contractor is finished in the building that they sign out in the visitors book and return the visitors badge.

Like staff visitors/contractors are easily identifiable. It is important that anyone that has access to your building has permission to do so.

As a manager would you stop someone in the building if they did not have a visitors badge on?

Practical Receptionist Skills – Daily Tasks


 

 

The Start of the Day

As a receptionist you might very well be the first person to enter or exit the building. Therefore you will need to know how the alarm works and the code.

Does your Surgery have a protocol(checklist)  on opening and closing the Surgery? If not perhaps you could suggest one. This is very useful for all new staff – it gives you a step by step guide on what to do when opening/closing the Surgery.

The Waiting Room

The waiting room is part of the Receptionist’s working environment and is where the patients will spend part of that time while in the Surgery. The state of the waiting room and its conditions of the waiting room can leave a great impression on patients either positive or negative. Make sure your waiting room leaves a positive impression.

Before Every Surgery (am and pm)

Always check that your waiting room is clean and tidy. This is also important for Health and Safety reasons.

If you identify any hazards report them to your manager or appointed Health and Safety person IMMEDIATELY.

It is essential that all magazines/toys/books are not left lying around on the floor as these can be dangerous and someone could slip and hurt themselves and this could result in a claim again your surgery.

Ensure that you notice board is up to date and all relevant notices are appropriate.

Keep magazines and other reading materials up to date. There is nothing worse than reading a magazine that is 2 years out of date.

Patients are more than happy to bring in used magazines that are only a week or two old.

It has been mentioned on a patient survey that our Practice once held that there were not enough magazines for men in the Surgery – i.e. cars/DIY/Boating/Gardening – perhaps include these in your magazine pile.

Ensure that your patient leaflets are kept up to date and the rack kept tidy.

Patient Notes

If you Doctor is still using patient notes (which is pretty rare these days) ensure that the list corresponds with either the computer or the appointments book. Remember to take out notes of patients that have cancelled and add any new patients booked in immediately. Avoid the situation whereby a patient might be kept waiting in the waiting room because the Doctor did not have their notes.

If a patient phones to cancel an appointment ensure that you delete the appointment immediately. A) This frees up another appointment for another patient

b) If the patient is not taken off the list it looks like they DNA (did not attend) for their appointment and this could go against them.

Incoming Mail

The Receptionist/Secretary/Administrator might have the responsibility of dealing with the daily post. Post will come from two sources – the main post office and the internal mail from the local hospitals and Health Authority.

The normal mail delivery should be date stamped sorted and any enclosures securely attached. They distributed to the appropriate people.

Ensure that you know who to give the post to in the event of a Doctor/Nurse/other is not in surgery due to sickness or holidays.

It is vital that you date stamp any incoming correspondence as this could be vital in the event of any legal action.

Your Surgery will have a protocol on dealing with the “internal post” from the local hospitals and Health Authority. Again it is vital that everything is dated stamped – including all patient results.

Out Going Post

Ensure that all outgoing post has the correct stamp on it.

True Story

‘There was an incident at one of the Surgeries that post had been sent out without stamps on. This resulted in patients having to go to the local sorting office to collect the letters days later, having to pay over the odds for postage and then finding that they had missed appointments that were in the letters.’

Ensure that post is posted on a daily basis – do not leave it for days before posting.

Internal Post / Specimens

Ensure that all specimens are labelled correctly – do not assume that the doctor will have filled it out correctly. Check the following has been completed

Patients Name

Patients Date of Birth

Time sample was taken.

Ensure that all the appropriate samples are correctly placed in the appropriate box for the daily collection.

Samples that are not completed correctly will be returned by the lab – resulting in the patients having to come back to the surgery and having the test taken again.

PETTY CASH

You will need to have a small cash flow in Reception. Patients will often pay for certain forms signed by the Doctor. Ensure that you have change to give.

You might also pay for other services from Petty Cash such as the milkman, stamps or a window cleaner. For any payments made from petty cash ensure that you have a receipt and place with the petty cash.

Ensure that the cash is kept in a locked petty cash box and is topped up every week or month to an agreed figure – known as a “float”.

Emergencies

A common source of anxiety to a receptionist is what to do when faced with an emergency. Occasionally this may happen within the surgery when there are no medical or nursing skills available on the premises, but most often the emergency will come in the form of a phone call. A receptionist should therefore be trained in such event and a protocol set in place. A receptionist should be fully aware of how to contact both GP’s and the ambulance service in an emergency.

At The End of the Day

Like the morning Receptionist you might find yourself being one of the last to leave the surgery at the end of the day.

It is important that the surgery is secure. Some of the important things that need to be checked are

Doors and windows are closed and locked

Lights are all switched off

All appropriate electrical equipment is switched off (check with IT as some computers are left on overnight)

Answerphone is switched on

Telephone redirection is active.

Alarm is set as you leave the building

Again it is advisable to have a checklist as there are probably many more things that need to be done when closing the surgery.

The Start of the Day

As a receptionist you might very well be the first person to enter or exit the building. Therefore you will need to know how the alarm works and the code.

Does your Surgery have a protocol(checklist)  on opening and closing the Surgery? If not perhaps you could suggest one. This is very useful for all new staff – it gives you a step by step guide on what to do when opening/closing the Surgery.

The Waiting Room

The waiting room is part of the Receptionist’s working environment and is where the patients will spend part of that time while in the Surgery. The state of the waiting room and its conditions of the waiting room can leave a great impression on patients either positive or negative. Make sure your waiting room leaves a positive impression.

Before Every Surgery (am and pm)

  • Always check that your waiting room is clean and tidy. This is also important for Health and Safety reasons.
  • If you identify any hazards report them to your manager or appointed Health and Safety person IMMEDIATELY.
  • Ensure that you notice board is up to date and all relevant notices are appropriate.
  • Keep magazines and other reading materials up to date. There is nothing worse than reading a magazine that is 2 years out of date. Patients are more than happy to bring in used magazines that are only a week or two old. It has been mentioned on a patient survey that our Practice once held that there were not enough magazines for men in the Surgery – i.e. cars/DIY/Boating/Gardening – perhaps include these in your magazine pile.
  • Ensure that your patient leaflets are kept up to date and the rack kept tidy.

Patient Notes

If you Doctor is still using patient notes (which is pretty rare these days) ensure that the list corresponds with either the computer or the appointments book. Remember to take out notes of patients that have cancelled and add any new patients booked in immediately. Avoid the situation whereby a patient might be kept waiting in the waiting room because the Doctor did not have their notes.

If a patient phones to cancel an appointment ensure that you delete the appointment immediately.

A) This frees up another appointment for another patient

b) If the patient is not taken off the list it looks like they DNA (did not attend) for their appointment and this could go against them.

Incoming Mail

The Receptionist/Secretary/Administrator might have the responsibility of dealing with the daily post. Post will come from two sources – the main post office and the internal mail from the local hospitals and Health Authority.

The normal mail delivery should be date stamped sorted and any enclosures securely attached. They distributed to the appropriate people.

Ensure that you know who to give the post to in the event of a Doctor/Nurse/other is not in surgery due to sickness or holidays.

It is vital that you date stamp any incoming correspondence as this could be vital in the event of any legal action.

Your Surgery will have a protocol on dealing with the “internal post” from the local hospitals and Health Authority. Again it is vital that everything is dated stamped – including all patient results.

Out Going Post

Ensure that all outgoing post has the correct stamp on it.

True Story

‘There was an incident at one of the Surgeries that post had been sent out without stamps on. This resulted in patients having to go to the local sorting office to collect the letters days later, having to pay over the odds for postage and then finding that they had missed appointments that were in the letters.’

Ensure that post is posted on a daily basis – do not leave it for days before posting.

Internal Post / Specimens

Ensure that all specimens are labelled correctly – do not assume that the doctor will have filled it out correctly. Check the following has been completed

  • Patients Name
  • Patients Date of Birth
  • Date/Time sample was taken.

Ensure that all the appropriate samples are correctly placed in the appropriate box for the daily collection.

Samples that are not completed correctly will be returned by the lab – resulting in the patients having to come back to the surgery and having the test taken again.

PETTY CASH

You will need to have a small cash flow in Reception. Patients will often pay for certain forms signed by the Doctor. Ensure that you have change to give.

You might also pay for other services from Petty Cash such as the milkman, stamps or a window cleaner. For any payments made from petty cash ensure that you have a receipt and place with the petty cash.

Ensure that the cash is kept in a locked petty cash box and is topped up every week or month to an agreed figure – known as a “float”.

Emergencies

A common source of anxiety to a receptionist is what to do when faced with an emergency- especially new Receptionists. Occasionally this may happen within the surgery when there are no medical or nursing skills available on the premises, but most often the emergency will come in the form of a phone call. A receptionist should therefore be trained in such event and a protocol set in place. A receptionist should be fully aware of how to contact both GP’s and the ambulance service in an emergency.

At The End of the Day

Like the morning Receptionist you might find yourself being one of the last to leave the surgery at the end of the day.

It is important that the surgery is secure. Some of the important things that need to be checked are

  • Doors and windows are closed and locked
  • Lights are all switched off
  • All appropriate electrical equipment is switched off (check with IT as some computers are left on overnight)

Answerphone is switched on

Telephone redirection is active.

Alarm is set as you leave the building

Again it is advisable to have a checklist as there are probably many more things that need to be done when closing the surgery.