Is your Practice/Staff at risk #SocialMedia


Many of us use social media, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more. Most of us use it for social purposes, sharing news, pictures, keeping in touch with family and friends, and some of us use it for business purposes.

There is no doubt about it social media is a marvellous thing but it also has a darker side. People sharing information and pictures without the permission of others, to comments being made that could result in bullying or even worse.

I have a friend who was mortified last Christmas to find that pictures that had been taken on a Practice works night out when she was “a bit worse for wear” had found their way onto her Facebook page. She had a few too many drinks and unfortunately tripped up a curb, someone took a picture and thought it would be funny to post this with other pictures of the night on their Facebook page. Unknown that these pictures had been taken; she only discovered them when she was tagged into the pictures. This resulted in he sons, husband and other members of her family and many friends seeing her in pictures she would rather them not have seen. She was not happy and it in fact caused a row at work on the Monday. There was bad feeling between the two for some time, and this in turn affected the moral within the team. The team divided in their opinions some feeling that the person who had posted the pictures had done no wrong, and some feeling that my friend was right in feeling angry. The row developed and a complaint to the Practice Manager and it all got very unpleasant.

Another article I found interesting recently was a Doctors Practice displayed a notice in their surgery asking patients not to use Facebook or Twitter to complain about their service. The notice asked patients if they had any complaints or comments about the surgery would they please contact the Practice Manager as any comments on social media sites may be seen as a breach of their zero tolerance policy. The surgery said in the notice that they would be happy to deal with comments/complaints in the usual way.

The “zero tolerance policy” referred to appears to be NHS guidance on dealing with rude, abusive or aggressive behaviour towards staff.

Apparently the online comments about the surgery named staff and swearwords were used and this what prompted the decision for the practice to put the notice up.

I think the practice was right in asking patient not to use social media for this, as the practice would not have been able to respond to any of the comments because of confidentiality issues. If staff were named this could have been seen as a form of bullying, and the staff member would have every right to feel threatened about it.

see a recent blog with a similar story :

The Threatened Receptionist

There are other stories that have recently been in the headlines, which have involved Facebook, a Neapolitan woman following a marital row her husband demanded that the photographs of their honeymoon be taken down from her Facebook page. His argument was he had not given his permission to publish them, and he even took her to court over it. The Naples court has not only agreed with him but the wife may have to pay him damages. The pictures were taken on the couples honeymoon 10 years ago and included photos of the couple.

Another article recently has also highlighted the importance of holidaymakers sharing their plans on social medial. It could be read and used by criminals planning a burglary.

This information can be seized by thieves – from research said that some 78% of ex-burglars said that they strongly believed social medial platforms are being used to target property.

I think we all need to be aware of the repercussions of staff sharing information on their personal social media sites – especially if it involved their workplace. It could be a very interesting topic to have on your next Receptionist Meeting to discuss using pictures on social media that might be anyway involved their place of work. But most important as an employee they must understand never get drawn into any arguments about their place of work on any social media sites.

Perhaps you could put something about social media usage in your staff contract.



© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

What Was Your Most Memorable Interview?


I applied for a position in a large GP Practice for the position of Reception Manager. Getting the position would mean a big step up in my career so I was obviously both nervous and excited when I got an invitation to attend an interview.

I did my research, prepared for the interview and arrived early and felt pretty calm. I felt the eyes of the Reception team boring into the back of my head as I sat in Reception. I imagined at that moment I was the topic of conversation behind the Reception desk.

The Practice Manager introduced herself and took me into the interview room. The Senior Partner introduced himself and the interview began.

I answered questions with confidence and asked many in return. I started to feel a bit more relaxed. The Practice Manager was lovely. She then gave an almighty yawn. She was mortified and apologised we laughed, we both looked over at the Senior Partner to see what his response was and to our amazement he was fast asleep in his chair arms crossed – with his mouth opened!

The look on the Practice Managers face was a picture, she coughed loudly, he slowly opened his eyes with that glazed look of “where am I” the room was silent. I wanted to laugh, mainly due to nerves, was I that boring?

He sat up, apologised and we continued with the interview.

I was told they would be in touch as they had other candidates to interview. I left thinking that for some reason I had blown my chances.

To my delight I received a call the following day asking me back for a 2nd interview. This time the Senior Partner kept awake and after a lengthy interview I was offered the job. I was delighted.

He was a great Senior Partner with a great sense of humour and we would often laugh at the time I impressed him so much he fell asleep.

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved


Staff that gossip about patients and break patient confidentiality

imagesWorking in a surgery or hospital you get to see and hear all sorts of situations that occur everyday. Patients come in all shapes and sizes and all have a different story to tell – but just how confident are you that their “story” is kept within the surgery/hospital walls.

Figures show that in the past 12 months (figures taken at October 2011) doctors, nurses and admin workers breached patients’ confidentiality some 802 times and that is probably a small amount of what is being breached. ***

There were at least 23 incidents where staff had openly discussed patients with colleagues, friends and family on websites such as Facebook.

There were also 91 incidents where NHS staff admitted to snooping through the medical files of their own colleagues.

I actually had the unfortunate task of speaking to, and going through the correct procedures and dismissing a member of staff due to her looking at a neighbours records, (to what she admitted doing) and then commenting on them to another member of staff. Sadly it wasn’t the first time she had been seen to have done this – staff grew concerned about the amount of time she was taking to doing the scanning – it later came out that she was reading most of the letters to gain information on people she knew in the local area then discussing this with other reception staff.

This receptionist had no excuse as she had gone through several training sessions one of them being patient confidentiality where she was clearly told that situations like this would be a breach of patient confidentiality. Unfortunately she didn’t feel that she had actually done anything wrong and it involved a tribunal case – to which she didn’t win.

We produced documents that she had signed a patient confidentiality statement, and also produced proof that she had been given appropriate training in patient confidentiality. There was no way she could have said that she “didn’t know”

This wasn’t nice for me as a Manager to have to deal with, for the Receptionist that lost her job (albeit it she was in the wrong). It also caused a lot of upheaval for her fellow team members as they had been witness to her doing this and of course having to make written statements accordingly.

It caused the practice lot of expense and extra workload for the staff doctor and myself. But most of all a patient at our practice had information about him discussed within staff members – which just isn’t good enough.

It is also not just admin staff that I am talking about, I have also overheard Doctors and other healthcare professionals discussing patients in a way other than in the manner they should have been – and most of these time I don’t think for one moment that they realised that they had broken patient confidentiality.

How can you ensure that your staff are not discussing patient details at work, at home and perhaps sharing information on social networking sites?

You cant!

But what you can do is ensure that you staff are fully trained on patient confidentiality, ensure they understand what actually is patient confidentiality and that they understand the implications of what happens if they do this and update training on a regular basis.

Ensure that staff are fully aware of  What is Patient Identifiable Information?

Does your staff sign a confidentiality statement when then start working for you? Do you include cleaners and porters in this? Are your cleaners and porters contracted by an outside agency? If so ensure that the agency are getting these forms signed before they start working for you.

Do you have a confidentiality clause in your visitor’s book?  Local trades people might often have access to your surgery to carry out work – they too could be privileged to patient information (notes on desk, computer screen left on, patients in the room) they should also be signing a confidentiality statement – and the best way for this is when then sign the visitors book at reception – have a confidentiality clause in the book for them to read before signing the book.

A lot of the time people do not realise they are breaching patient confidentiality – but if someone can identify a patient through a name, date of birth, address or whatever then the confidentiality is broken – and the patient would have ever right to complain.

Are you confident that ALL your staff are fully aware of the meaning “patient confidentiality.”

***Here is the link to the article that I speak about above


© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

How Do You Cope With Staff Sickness

imagesCAAC8IDWThis time of year it can be very stressful working in a Surgery or Hospital environment. The flu season is upon us and Christmas approaching fast – stress levels can be high. Patients can often be more demanding as they too are stressed, little ones are poorly, no one wants to be sick for Christmas – appointments are few and far between.

Staff are going down like flies with flu and other winter bugs and on top of that people are trying to take last-minute annual leave – which of course can put enormous pressure on others in the team. Often receptionists come into work feeling poorly when they should be at home as they do not like to let their team down, but there comes a time when they just cannot get in as they are too poorly.

Being short-staffed can lead bad feelings, between the team and between the team and management – moral can get low at this time of year. How do you handle such times as your surgery?

A Surgery that I worked for had two sites – in all about 28 reception and admin staff. But on top of that we have a team of 8 bank receptionists (temporary). They all worked on a part-time basis as and when we needed them. They would cover at both sites. Some of them would be willing to do a full week when needed others preferred to keep to certain days or a certain number of hours per week – but they were all very flexible in a time of need. They were often our angels in times of need.

As a practice we only paid them for what they worked. We did also give them holiday pay depending on what they had worked. No more than paying a regular receptionist to do overtime  that perhaps she didn’t really want to do – or giving her time off in lieu which then meant when she took that time back cover would be needed for her.

But it was important for the bank staff to feel part of the team. Keeping them informed of changes within the Reception team/Practice was vital and I always ensured that any memo’s or emails that went out to the regular staff they received copies of too. They were very much part of the team and treated so.

Every single bank receptionist was included in every training programme and was invited to join in any social event that we had both in and outside of the surgery. They were always included in any receptionists meetings that we held.

In fact some of our “bank” receptionists actually worked more hours than some of our regular receptionists. It really was a system that worked extremely well.

If you think that each 28 reception/admin staff was entitled to 4 weeks holiday, plus cover needed for sickness and days needed for training it amounted to a lot of cover being needed throughout the year and because of this it didn’t put pressure on other staff to cover those times.

We would still offer extra hours to our regular receptionists but they were never under any pressure to do so if they didn’t want to. There was always plenty to go around.

I am surprised that this has not taken off in more Practices as it really did work out very well indeed especially around this time of year.

None of us wants to put pressure on staff to cover for colleagues, but of course we do because we do not have another option – but do we?

Staff / Locum Introduction Form

A new member of staff arrives for their first day. Cast your mind back to your first day – even your first week – what would you put in place to have made it as smooth as possible?

Starting a new job can be daunting for someone – the easier it is made the quicker they will settle in and become part of the team.

Past experiences and talking to new members of staff I introduced a Staff Introduction Form that would be completed with the Surgery Supervisor and the new member of staff or Locum Doctor/Nurse on their first day.

It is amazing how many people are not shown where the toilets are or where the fire exits are and more important where the resuscitating equipment is located.

Does your new staff know where your resusciating equipment is located?

This list became so popular with new staff and Supervisors that we introduced a similar form for locum Doctors and Nurses to the practice.

Often a Locum will  arrive early morning and shown to their consultation room and nothing else – again  Doctors  really valued this form and found it very helpful indeed.

The importance of the form is that is it completed with the new member of staff – signed and dated by both the Supervisor and the staff member/locum.

One copy is kept on personal files and the other is given to the staff member or locum.

I am limited to how I can do the layout as this is down to the blog – but I will give some idea on what you should include in your form.

Name :
Position: Receptionist / Locum /other
Surgery Name: ***
Staff / Locum Signature Date
Location of Staff/Locum   Handbook 
Tour of Premises

  •   Internal   keypad code issued
  •   Fire exits
  •   Cloakroom


Introduction to Staff

  •   Issue name badge


Health and Safety

  •   Location   of First Aid Box
  •   Location   of Accident Book
  •   Fire   Procedures
  •   Location   of Fire Alarms
  •   Location   of Panic Button


Resuscitating Equipment  & Emergency   Trolley

  •   Location


Surgery Policy on calling 999 *** 
Important Note:

  •   Personal   belongings are your responsibility. The practice cannot accept liability for   loss or theft from the premises.
  •   Consulting   room doors must be kept locked with unoccupied.



Date: SignedSurgery Supervisor/ Manager SignedStaff / Locum

** If you have more than one Surgery you will need to complete a different form as the layout will be different

*** see previous blog on “Does Your Practice have a 999 Policy

It might not always be possible to get all the checks done on the first day so it is important that the form is signed and dated as each part is completed. This will also be a reminder to the Surgery Supervisor if there is still something outstanding.

You can add to your list to suit your own surgery – but try to keep it to the most important things – the new member of staff will soon start to settle down once they have the basics.

If your Surgery has policies and procedures make sure that the new member of staff is aware of where it is kept so they can go to that for reference if the need to.

Smoking in the workplace


I had an interesting 3 way discussion over recently – it was about smoking breaks in the workplace.

I would like to state before I start I don’t really have an opinion either way – I am not a smoker and never have been but was brought up in a house that both parents smoked – and up to 6 months ago a husband that smoked too.

The discussion I had was with a smoker and a non smoker.

The conversation stated with the non smoker saying that in her place of work (which happened to be a Doctors Surgery) the smokers gets to have regular smoke breaks during her shift  – albeit it only 5 minutes or so but they could have several in some working session.

She felt that it was unfair on those that did not smoke. Most of the Receptionists worked part-time and therefore did not qualify for a “tea break” but could have tea/coffee while they were working – and she stated that the smokers who had “smoking breaks” also had the team/coffee at their desks along with the non smokers.

I asked the non smoker if they could also take a 5 minute break away from their desk and her reply was it was not possible as there was always so much to do – but the smokers could always find the time.

The smoker of course try to defend herself – she disagreed and said that by having the smoking break gave her the buzz to be able to carry on – if she was not allowed to have that smoking break then she felt that her work would suffer.  She was adamant that smokers should be entitled to smoke breaks – and could not see a problem with it.

The discussion got quite heated – both girls feeling that they were in the right – one feeling that she should be allowed several breaks to have a cigarette – the other girl feeling that why her colleague was out having the cigarette she was having to cover and do more work.

They both asked me what I thought.

It did get me thinking – what would I do if two members of staff approached me with a similar problem?

It’s something that you would have to deal with fairly and opened minded. Not let your judgement be swayed if you are a smoker or non smoker.

This could become a big problem in your organisation – so perhaps you need to have a policy on smoking n the workplace – have it written into your staff handbook and even discuss at interviews.

Do not let a situation like this because a big problem in your workplace – have a policy in place. I certainly am going to.