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.

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.

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

Working Together #NHS #111 #A&E #GPSurgeries


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Sadly, as most of you are all aware there is a lot of negative publicity in the press at the moment about our great NHS service and sadly some of it with good reason.

It saddens me to read some of the dreadful reports about patient care and those working for the NHS being abused and often overworked. Working for the NHS and being a patient I can see a lot of this from both sides.

Doctors surgeries are busting at the seams with patients struggling to get appointments. Practices are merging together but are they able to continue to offer the service they did before?

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The Ambulance service is stretched and A&E are struggling to find beds resulting people being treated in corridors, whilst Ambulance crews are held up in the car parks with patients on board waiting to be seen and treated, often resulting in the ambulance crew not being available to go to the next emergency.

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Sadly, there are still the time wasters and abusers of the service. Those that call that emergency ambulance when all they needed was a GP appointment, the hoax callers that can tie up the emergency services for hours before they finally find that there was no “emergency” to those that present at A&E for minor ailments. Working in the past in A&E it never ceased to amaze me just what people would present with at A&E with. (I have written other blog stories when I worked in A&E)

As a Manager working in the NHS it’s a hard job. Struggling on a daily basis, trying to hit targets, wanting to give best patient care is almost impossible, dealing with staff that are forever under pressure on the front line and answering to stressful those who need to be obeyed.

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As a Receptionist, you will never please everyone, and many will be sure to be vocal and let you know how unhappy they are and often blame you for the “awful service”.  Telephones ringing constantly, people demanding urgent appointments that you just haven’t got, GP’s and Managers constantly asking the impossible from you, and all while you are working for barely more than the minimum wage.

Hearing from friends, updates on social media and press reports everyone is struggling to be seen resulting in people misusing the NHS because they had no alternative.

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A friend recently phoned 111 (for my overseas readers this is an out of hours service which covers GP surgeries when they are closed – an excellent service which gives patients 24/7 cover). My friend felt very unwell, sore throat, temperature and generally feeling very unwell. She spoke to somewhere at the 111 Service, for whatever reason the 111-service suggested she took paracetamol and phone her GP surgery the following morning. She had a bad night and phoned her GP Surgery first thing the following morning. Her surgery was unable to offer her an appointment and she explained how ill she felt, she was than advised if she continued to feel unwell to take herself off to A&E – as ill as she felt she would have never done this but many might have acted on this advice. She left it another 24 hours and phoned the surgery again where she was given an appointment for that day where she was given Antibiotic and Steroids for a chest infection.

My husband was recently poorly at a weekend, as thought he had a nasty chest infection. I phoned to see if we could get an appointment at a local Treatment Centre (the out of hours service where you can see a GP). After giving the operator all his symptoms (he was breathless due to the cold/chest infection) the operator said they she recommended that they send an ambulance out to him. The protocol said that if the patient was breathless or had breathing problems that an ambulance should be sent. There was no way that he needed an ambulance, he could have actually driven himself to the Treatment Centre, he was ill but not that ill, and even if he was I could have driven him there.

I believe that both of the above where 2 incidents where the emergency services (A&E and an ambulance) were not needed. I know that people have protocols to follow but in these two instances the patients could just have been seen and treated by a GP.

Do we need to look at the bigger picture, to look as how we can signpost people in the right direction, to ensure that people who need A&E are seen, and those that can see a GP do so? We have a great NHS, we can see a GP free, we have GP cover 24/7 and at a last resort we have a great emergency service in the ambulance service and A&E. It’s important that everyone needs to see those that are appropriate to them. Is there anything that we can do together to ensure that this happens most of the time?

I would be very interested to hear from my many overseas followers on how their GP Practice work. How does your routine appointment system work and when patients request emergency appointments what is your practice policy and does you’re A&E Departments get clogged up with people who don’t need to be there?

 

© 2011-2018 Reception Training all rights reserved

When Communication Works Well #PooleHospital


 

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I went along to Poole Hospital at the beginning of the week with my husband for an outpatient’s appointment.

On arrival in the Blue Clinic we were met by a lovely friendly volunteer who was eager to show us how to use the self-service booking system. She talked us through it chatting away whilst she was booking him in. Her lovely friendly nature was a breath of fresh air and it was obvious that she enjoyed being there. She then took us to the area we needed to be ready for our appointment.

The TV screen in the department gave out useful information as well as informing us that the clinic was running a bit late – this was extremely useful as it allowed my husband to pop off to the toilet without worrying that he might miss being called in for his appointment.

After a short while a healthcare assistant came out to apologise for the delay and she told us how many people were in front of us (we only had one other person before us) She went around everyone else in the department informing them of the same.

When his appointment came we were had a lovely welcome from the consultant together with a handshake, smile and great eye contact. The consultation wasn’t rushed, we had plenty of opportunities to ask questions and everything we needed to know was covered. Everything was explained in full details and in a way that we could understand.

We were in the department no more than about 45 minutes from arriving to leaving. It was a brilliant service and the most impressive thing was the communication, it was excellent and this must be so useful for people who perhaps are unsure, or somewhat confused at a being in such a large department.

We were both very impressed with our overall visit. Well done Poole Hospital, your staff, volunteers and communication was excellent.

 

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© 2011-2018 Reception Training all rights reserved

The Intensive Care Bed #Hospital


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Here in the UK last night the BBC aired a programmed called “Hospital”. It was a very moving programme showing how stretched the NHS is. It certainly opened my eyes to the daily nightmares that consultants, managers and nursing staff find themselves in on a daily basis. The shortage of Intensive Care beds the result in operations having to be cancelled and patients being turned away for life saving operations. The look of frustration and helplessness etched on the faces of many.

How I felt for the patient that had his operation cancelled for the second time, being sent home after waiting in the ward anxiously waiting to hear that an Intensive Care bed was available – it didn’t happen the bed was needed for another patient.

It brought be back to when my mum was “that patient”. Extremely poorly with bowel cancel, awaiting a life saving operation. She was prepared for the op by having nil by mouth for 24 hours the day before the scheduled operation. By 4.00 that afternoon she was still waiting, we her family were waiting with her trying to keep her spirits up. Finally, I went along to the nurse’s station to find out what was happening to be told that her operation was cancelled due to there being no Intensive Care bed that she needed after her operation. Her operation was delayed to the following week.

The following week arrives, my mum another week on, getting weaker by the day but we were all optimistic she was having her op that day. It got to lunchtime and we got the dreaded news her operation was cancelled again for the 2nd time. The Intensive Care bed was needed for a man who was involved in a road traffic accident. I remember feeling anger at this person who I didn’t know – because of him my mum was not able to have her operation again – and then the instant guilt of feeling like that. This faceless unknown person fighting for their life as my mum was doing got the bed first – WHY!! I often wonder how their family felt – they probably just took it for granted that the Intensive Bed was there – as I thought before this nightmare began. Her operation was delayed for yet another week.

The 3rd week arrived – just a few days before Christmas. We were told previously that mum would be first on the operating list. I sat with her – her fight all gone. All 4 and half stone of my beautiful mum wasting away in the bed before my eyes. They came around to get her prepped for the operation. Excitement building like this was something that we didn’t believe was ever going to happen. Somthing that before this we had just taken from granted. Patients starting going down to the theatre – the consultant came up and asked if he could have a word with the family. His dreaded words “I’m sorry but we are going to have to cancel mum’s operation again” Our grief at that moment was unbearable. My heat was torn in two – how on earth could she survive another week. Amongst all of the shouting and swearing the panic and the disbelieve I still remember the look of despair on the consultants face. He just didn’t know what to say. He apologised and said that he would have felt exactly the same if it had been his family. It was the same story – they didn’t have an Intensive Care bed for mum after the operation.

I would never in my wildest thoughts that it would have been a bed that would have prevented my mum from having a life saving operation. It just didn’t make sense. I actually believed at this stage that this was just a lie – that they didn’t feel that mum at the age of 70 years was worthy of this operation. I felt they were just waiting on her dying.

The consultant went and spoke to mum. She had lost the will and just nodded – perhaps like me she thought that she was never going to have this op.

I remember mum saying she was hungry – I sent my Dad to get her a sandwich from the canteen. This has been her 3rd week of starving for 24 hours before being told she wasn’t having the op. She then asked the nurse for the commode. The nurse went off to get one. The nurse took longer than mum could wait and she attempted to get out of bed to get to the toilet – as ill as she was she still had her pride. As she stood upright the tumour burst – all over the floor. Within 10 minutes she was being rushed to the operating theatre where she had the operation.

She finally had the Intensive Care bed that she was promised 3 weeks ago, albeit only for 2 nights instead of the 5-7 she was told she would be in there for. She was  then transferred to the high dependency unit. I often wonder if someone had to be moved out of intensive Care to make way for mum, or if someone who was waiting for it had been cancelled like my mum had.

Watching the programme last night brought it all back. It made me see the nightmares that the staff have on a daily basis trying to access Intensive Care beds for patients. As the programme showed last night we in the UK have the most wonderful consultants with the most amazing powers to carry out life changing operations, the dedicated staff who work around the clock to look after the patients before and after their operations and the most marvellous well equipped hospitals that we should be so proud of. But how shocking it is to think that it sometimes comes down to the “luck of the draw” when it comes to needing that much-needed Intensive Care bed.

 

© 2011-2018 Reception Training all rights reserved

Just how important are Telephone Messages #AnswerMachine


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Just how important are telephone answering machines? VERY important as it keeps your customers informed of you’re opening days and times.

Last week I needed to contact my dentist for an urgent appointment. He is a one-man dentist, with a hygienist and a nurse/receptionist. When he has any time off the practice closes.

I rang at 09.00 last Monday morning, the telephone just rang and rang, no one answered and there was no telephone answering message. I thought they might be starting at 9.30 so I range again – still no answer. I did think this was strange as usually when he has been away on holiday he has answered the phone via his mobile and has advised from there. This time there was nothing.

I tried again just after lunchtime and again around 4.00 pm. I wondered if perhaps he was having a long weekend off. I even checked that I was ringing the correct number.

I tried again the following morning, at 9.00 and 11.00.

The worse part for me was the not knowing. Had there been a message to say how long the surgery was going to be closed for I could have then made a decision to either wait and see him or to seek treatment elsewhere.

As I needed an urgent appointment I telephoned another practice locally and was luckily enough to get an appointment that same afternoon.

Just as well I did as I was told that had I left it any later I would have probably lost the tooth.

I have been with my dentist for over 9 years. No reason to change to be honest, I am not fond of the dentist at the best of times, but he always seemed to be good enough.

I actually found the new dentist to be extremely pleasant, she made me feel very much as ease. The surgery surroundings were very relaxed and the Receptionist was lovely, she chatted away.  I felt far more relaxed when I went in to see the Dentist and she talked me through what she was going to do. The surgery was also much closer to home and there was free parking where I used to have to pay for parking at my other dentist and to add to it all the new dentist’s overall charges were considerably a lot cheaper than my regular dentist.

Taking everything into consideration I have decided to move to the new Dentist, it suits my needs much more, but I didn’t realise that until I was forced to visit the new surgery.

Had my old dentist had a telephone message advising how long the surgery would be closed for I would probably still be going there now.

So, it is vital that you have a good telephone message set up on your phones. Ensure that the message is appropriate and you might have to change a message if you have the following:

  • Morning opening times that differ
  • if you close for lunch – state what time you open again at and leave any emergency numbers as appropriate.
  • Evening closing times differ – again leave any emergency numbers
  • Friday night – leave messages appropriate for weekend closing and again leave any emergency numbers
  • If there is a bank holiday, please ensure that this is mention in the last message before the holiday.

Get someone who has a good clear voice to record the messages. It is essential that they speak slowly and clearly and repeat any emergency telephone numbers twice.

Get someone to check the messages regularly to make sure they are the correct ones.

If you do not want anyone leaving messages add this to your message and make it clear that the service does not accept telephone messages. If you don’t people will use it as a message machine.

There is nothing worse that getting a telephone answering message that is out of date or wrong!

Having the correct telephone message on your answer phone is important. You could lose customers if it’s not.

© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved