Please don’t blame the GP’s


 

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Sadly, GP’s have come into attack again in the UK from the press. The main complaint is that patients are waiting far too long for appointments, and I think we can all agree with this. Waiting times are far too long, BUT this is not the fault of the GP ‘s who are trying their best to keep their patients happy.

1 in 10 GP’s are seeing up to 60 patients a day many seeing 40 when realistically they should be seeing around 30.

People that think that GP’s are at fault for the lack of appointments they just simply don’t appreciate the work that goes into a day in the Surgery.

GP’s don’t just see patients, they have letters to write from patient consultations. They have results to chase up, prescriptions to check and sign, home visits to do, meetings to attend, various insurance forms to go through, and quite often this is done through their lunch breaks or staying after evening surgery to get it all done.

Managing the appointments system is usually tasked to the Practice Manager who will work closely with the GP’s and they are constantly looking for ways to improve on their current system for the good of their patients.

Every week every single surgery has many DNA (did not attend) appointments. Patients that have booked appointments simply don’t turn up or cancel them, despite many being send alerts via their phone which are easy to cancel.

Some surgeries offer appointments whereby patients’ phone first thing to get an appointment that same day. This doesn’t always work well for people that are working because getting time off at short notice is not always possible. While this system suits some patients, others complain that they cannot pre-book appointments. As well we know any appointment system will suit some and not others.

The knock-on effect of patients unable to access appointments at a time convenient to them just don’t realise the impact that it has on the whole team. It starts with the Receptionist who contrary to belief are there to help the patients and happy to do so. They don’t enjoy having to go through pages of appointments to then tell the patient that all the appointments have gone. Or to tell the patient that the next available one is 3 weeks away. Believe me the job is far more enjoyable when the Receptionist can actually offer the patient what they want.

Another thing that really annoys some patients is when the Receptionist asks what they want to see the doctor for. It’s not to be nosey. It’s certainly not to be difficult, its simply to see if another healthcare professional could see the patient instead of the doctor. Many larger Practices have ECP’s (Emergency Care practitioner) who can prescribe, Practice Nurses, District Nurses, HCA’s (Health Care Assistants), Paramedics, Phlebotomists. By asking what the appointment is needed for can often direct the patient to another healthcare who can help. This then allows patients that need to see a doctor having better access.

Many Surgeries are now open longer hours. As early as 7.30 in the morning and until 8.00 in the evening, and some are now opened for emergencies at weekends.

We are also very lucky that we have access to a doctor or healthcare professional 24/7 by phoning 111 or in an emergency 999 or going to A&E.

The press is saying that patients are saying that afternoon appointments can often find the doctor not as compassionate as they would be in the morning. In my experience this simply isn’t true. But ask yourself, if you were working 12 hours a day with no break, trying to you best to accommodate everyone that came in to see you that day, trying to keep everyone happy would you not be exhausted. Of course, you would, GP’s are human beings too, they are victims or stressful jobs, and they get tired like the rest of us.

Where I live they are in the process of building a new housing estate which will consist of 600 new homes. There are no allowances for these people wanting to register at a GP Practice. The local practice is already at breaking point, and yet the government will expect the people in these new homes to be registered somewhere. Who will suffer the most, the new patients because they might have to travel miles to register with a GP. The local surgery will suffer if they have to take on new patients, and then in turn the patients already registered at the practice will be waiting longer for appointments than before.

Patient demands are rising. Expeditions and behaviour from a minority of patient often leading to GP’s, Receptionists and other healthcare professionals exhausted at the end of the day- and then they have to face the very same the following day.

So, next time you have to wait weeks for an appointment, remember the Receptionist doesn’t take any delight in doing this and certainly the GP’s are not the cause of it.

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Good Customer Service #Reviews #Praise


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Good customer serice is always vitally important to me and has been my passion in every job I have had.  No matter how small an act of kindness that is given, it will often mean an awful lot to the customer that is receiving it.

But, I also accept good customer service in return. Sadly, this doesn’t always happen and what is even sadder is that people are often ready to complain more than they give a compliment. If ever I receive exceptional customer service and someone goes over and above their role to make me feel that my issue has been resolved I will often email/tweet/or contact the company involved.

How would you feel if someone took the time to call you or your company to say how well you did your job and how thankful they were? I tell you the feeling is magnificent and will make you feel so good.

The same if you see or hear one of your staff members go over and above to ensure that a customer gets a good service, tell them. Share with them how impresses you were. It makes them feel so good.

So, I am going to praise good customer service on my blog. I will nominate one person or company each month and share with you why I felt they deserved the nomination.

So, to start the new year I am going to start with 3 companies that I have found to have had exceptional customer service, that has listened and resolved my issue.

These are in no particular order.

 imagesI recently had an issue with my iPad. I phoned our local store and was put through to the call centre. I had a lovely chap that gave me his name, and straightway took my telephone number in the event we got cut off he would be able to ring me straight back.

He took me through several different steps on my iPad trying to solve the problem assuring me all the time that he would do his best to solve the issue.

After about 20 minutes we had covered all areas that he felt would rectify the problem, and whilst doing so explained exactly what he was doing and why. He also gave me some tips along the way that could help in the future.

He gave me a case number and said if I was experiencing any problems relating to the issue to phone back quoting this number and the person dealing with it would be updated with what had already been done.

The call wasn’t ended until he knew that I was happy and understood that if I was not happy I could phone back at any time.

This hasn’t been the first time that I have had to contact Apple by phone, or go in person into the store and every single member of staff has always giving first class service. Well done Apple and a big thank you for the lovely staff that you have working for you. They are always friendly, take the time to deal with the issue and see it through and know your products inside out.

 

joules-logo-v2I had an issue with an item that was bought for me only last Christmas. I had hoped that this item would have lasted a bit longer that it did. I tweeted Joules saying I was gutted that my item had stopped being fit for purpose.

I got a very quick response asking me to DM them (direct message) and give more details and include my email address. I replied and within minutes got a reply saying that someone would reply to me via email.

I received a very friend email asking for some more details which I gave and the next day got a reply to say that a new replacement would be on its way that day.

This issue was all done via email, but you can still get vibes from how someone speaks to you and these responses were friendly, quick and to the point.

Well done Joules for your quick response via twitter and email and thank you for the suburb customer service. The whole issue took 4 days from the very first tweet to delivery.

utility-warehouse_finalWe moved into our house just over 2 years ago. It was a total renovation and we were up to our eyes in building work getting the house in order, along with getting all the utilities installed and up and working.

A good friend of mine recommended Utility Warehouse and what sounded appealing was they did most of the utilities we needed. Gas, Electricity, Internet, home phone, mobile phone data calls and texts all under one roof. It seemed to make life a lot easier.

We had a lovely rep out that went over a plan that would suit our needs. He also informed us of some loyalty benefits that we would be entitled to which was a lovely surprise.

So, we signed up and to date have not had any regrets.

For me what makes this company so different to other utility companies is their customer service. Every single time I have ever had the need to phone I have always been dealt with the most pleasant person at the other end of the telephone. They have always resolved the issue and had always made sure that I am happy before ending the call.

The “dread” of phoning a call centre is no longer there in the knowledge that if I do have to phone them I am confident that the issue will be resolved before the call is ended.

Well done Utility Warehouse, you have a great team working in your call centre who are knowledgeable and always extremely helpful and polite.

Have you experienced good customer service recently? If so please so share with us all.

 

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Struggling GP Appointments?


 

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Working in a GP surgery the most complained about, and the most stressful thing is lack of GP appointments.

Patients get frustrated when they have to wait days and sometimes weeks for an appointment, and often the staff trying to deal with this often get verbal abuse from the frustrated patients.

There are only so many appointments available every day, and most surgeries will go over and above their daily appointments trying to accommodate patients that have to be seen that day.

Of course, every surgery had a large volume of DNA’s which means ‘Did not attend’ or ‘Did not Arrive’ and often these will be in fact be patients that have been fitted in the same day because they said that they were really poorly and needed to be seen that same day. Missed appointments hit every surgery and is a never-ending headache for the team.

There is a practice in Highcliffe in Dorset that have a great system that I am sure helps with their appointment system and its fairly simply and yet very effective.

They run a children’s clinic every afternoon from 4 – 4.30 Monday to Friday where parents can bring children up to the age of 16 and can be seen that same day without having to phone for an appointment. It is a walk-in clinic. No having to phone and get an urgent appointment which isn’t always possible.

In the knowledge that parents can get their children seen that same day will often have them often leaving it another day in the knowledge that if the child is still no better the following day they still have the choice to be seen, that alone takes off a lot of pressure off the parents and the appointments system and therefore staff too.

Parents are not taking up appointments throughout the day  thus leaving these for other patients.

I think this is a really good system, so all they have to do is find a way to reduce the large amount of missed appointments.

Have you got a system that works really well in your Surgery that helps with the daily appointments struggle.

Sometimes Rules Need To Be Broken


We have just seen in the new year here in the UK. As I type this its 00.15 on the 1.1.19 everyone is celebrating all over the country wishing everyone Wealth, Health and Happiness.

My mum being Scottish New Years Eve was always the most important night in the year. She loved it. A as child I had lovely memories of her partying on NYE. New Years Day would be like another Christmas Day with another big dinner on the table.

Sadly this isn’t the case for some. People in ill health, people in hospital or hospices, others going through abuse in the home. Spare a thought for those that are not celebrating tonight.

NYE always bring me back to my mum being very poorly in hospital after having major surgery. I had to travel a 100 miles to see her and did this a couple of times a week.

We went to visit her during the day on NYE and I asked a nurse if my dad and I could come back that evening around 11.50 to sit with her to see the New Year in together. I explained the importance of what it meant to my mum. The nurse refused without given it a second thought. I know it was the rules, but would it have really hurt if we had come back. Mum was in a little bay to herself so we knew we wouldn’t disturb anyone else. All we wanted was 15 minutes sitting with mum. But she wasn’t going to allow it to happen. How I regret that I didn’t push it any further.

So, my mum was on her own for her first NYE. No one with her.

She died the following day.

I still feel angry with myself for not pushing it further, maybe asking someone else and hoping for a different answer. And I still feel angry with that nurse. Could she not have broken the rules just that once. I know if I were in her shoes I would have tried in someway of allowing this to happen. I felt that the nurse lacked empathy.

Seeing with the eyes of another

Listening with the ears of another

And feeling with the heart of another.

If you are ever in doubt and you inner self tells you its the right thing they try your hardest to get it done. Rules sometimes can be broken to make people happy.

GDPR Video and Quiz for Receptionists & Administrators #guest blog #practice index


General Data Protection Regulations 

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You can now test your GDPR knowledge with a fantastic new quiz from our friends at Practice Index. There’s also a short video which tells you all you need to know about GDPR.

 

 

Caring and Compassionate #BournemouthBirthCentre #MaternityUnit


I was honoured recently to be a birthing partner for someone having their baby in the Bournemouth Birth Centre. It was their second baby but their first time in Bournemouth.

What can I say but WOW what an amazing experience from the moment we walk in through the door to the after care and so much more.

The unit itself is truly marvellous. Its modern, with a welcoming Reception area, extremely friendly and spotlessly clean. You get a feeling of being welcomed and that feeling never went away.

The midwives and maternity healthcare assistants couldn’t have done anymore for us all. Myself and the dad to be was included in every part of the care throughout the stay.

The birthing room itself was large, well equipped, gentle music playing in the background and a birthing pool with its gentle lightening to the therapeutic aromatherapy oils gently whispering through the air. A fully equipped en-suite just made this room everything that could possibly be needed.

The little touches in the unit were amazing. Lovely names for each of the birthing suits.

Beautiful phrases on the walls

and each time a baby is born there is a place for them in Reception on a blue or pink lamb with the date of birth and the weight and apparently in a years’ time they will be sent this lovely memento to keep.

Whilst in the earlier stage of labour we took a slow walk around the lovely lake so beautifully landscaped in the grounds of the hospital. Certainly, a place of tranquil and beauty for patients and visitors to enjoy. It was early evening, it was quite as we watched the birds on the water, and the tiny rabbits playing in the grass. Seating all around for us to pause while another contraction took hold.

Lots of tea and coffee, laughs and hugs and the most amazing experience watching their baby son coming into the world. This is one experience that I will cherish forever and this was made possible by the very caring and compassionate members of staff.

The parents spent the night bonding together in the Birthing Centre with their new son the husband having his own bed for the night it really was like home from home.  The following morning, they welcomed their 2-year-old in to meet his new brother. It was so very relaxed and emotional. Family time just the four of them for the first time together.

The care didn’t end when they left the unit. They were encouraged to phone if they had any queries or worries, was told they could come back to the until if they felt the need and their midwife followed up with a phone all 3 days later to see how they were all doing. What a fantastic service.

I cannot praise the unit enough. I honestly don’t think they would have got any better treatment if they had paid privately. The whole experience was 5*. This indeed just shows how fantastic our NHS is and how extremely lucky and proud we are to have this wonderful hospital on our doorstep.

what a lovely start to a new life

Behind a Cancelled Appointment #Dentist


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Its happens to the best of us – most of us as a Receptionist will have at one time or another booked someone in with the wrong healthcare professional. But it’s how you deal with mistake, and the actions we take to ensure that:

  1. a) it doesn’t happen again and
  2. b) the patient is inconvenienced as little as possible, most important to remember it wasn’t their mistake they were booked in with the wrong person.

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A good friend of mine had this happen to her only last week. She was booked in with a wrong dentist at her Dental Practice – and here is the impact both emotionally and financially it had on her life due to a wrongly booked appointment.

Firstly, the patient has a phobia of the dentist, so to book an appointment in itself is a major ordeal for her. She was told at her last appointment that she needed to have a tooth extraction. The appointment was booked some 6 weeks away – 6 weeks of anxiety about the forthcoming appointment.

No one enjoys going to the dentist but to have a phobia is on another level and unless you understand this you have no idea the stress and anxiety it can cause the patient and those around them.

Her appointment was booked for 10 am last Monday morning. At 9.15 she received a call from the Practice tell her that she had been booked into the wrong dentist (she had been originally registered with the dentist she had mistakenly been booked in with – but because she had gone over a certain period of time without an appointment she had to re-register with the same Practice but was registered under another dentist) She was told that the dentist she was NOW registered with was fully booked for that day, and her previous dentist had refused to see her despite having the half hour appointment booked out.

The receptionist did apologise, and commented that she could hear how anxious the patient was at having the appointment cancelled. She was offered another appointment for the Wednesday at 8.30. She had to refuse this because she had children that she had to get to school and the dentist was a good few miles away from where they lived. She was then offered another appointment on the Friday morning at 10.00.

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Now this already had started causing the patient problems. Because of her phobia of the dentist her husband who is self-employed had to arrange to take time off from work to accompany her to the dentist. When he doesn’t work he doesn’t get paid. The patient also works 3 evenings a week, and Mondays were one of her nights to work.  Because she was going to have a tooth extraction it was suggested because of the type of work she does that she didn’t go into work that evening, so she had to arrange a swap with someone at her work. So, the cancelled appointment had already started to cause unnecessary problems as she now had to have another night off as the appointment was booked for the Friday which was another night she was scheduled to work.

She didn’t feel she could ask for another swap and she didn’t want to take this off as sickness as she prides herself on her exemplary sickness record and didn’t want to leave her work colleagues under pressure if she phoned in sick. She spoke to her boss and she had to take the night off as unpaid leave – another loss of earnings. Her husband had to also swap work around meaning that he was again losing more money on the Friday morning.

She arrived at the dentist, with her phobia now causing her concern she looked for reassurance from the dentist – which sadly she didn’t get. She was given the injection and asked to sit in the waiting room – the injection didn’t seem to take, so she was given a second and third injection before being told that it hadn’t taken and therefore the dentist couldn’t do the procedure. She was told she would have to be referred to the hospital to have the extraction done under a general anaesthetic and was told to expect to wait between 3-6 months. She really wanted to have this procedure done and dusted just to get it out-of-the-way and she certainly wasn’t keen on the thought of having a general anaesthetic, but understood why this would have to be done.

So, she was sent home, she had paid for the extraction that she didn’t have. On top of that now having to take a night off work without pay as well as her husband losing another half day’s wages. This tooth extraction that didn’t happen had now cost them both a lot of money.

10 minutes after leaving the dentist her mouth went completely numb and she couldn’t feel a thing, making her question if she could have indeed had the procedure done after all. She did feel that the dentist had certainly rushed through the appointment.

All of this causing annoyance and stress which could have been avoided if she had been put in with the right dentist when the appointment was being booked.

The importance of getting the appointment right is not only for the benefit of the Practice but also the benefit of the patient – you never know what is behind a cancelled appointment.

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