The Threatened Receptionist

Working in general practice as a Receptionist, Supervisor and a Manager nothing ever surprises me anymore, and just when you think you have seen it all something else comes along to add to the endless stories that working in a surgery brings.

The highs and lows the funny and the sad you never get two days exactly the same.

This story was a new one to me, one that I haven’t come across.

I was chatting to a friend yesterday to works in a GP Surgery. She told me that there had been an incident in their admin office. Whilst she was talking to a patient she could hear raised voices at the end of the office. When my friend had finished her call she turned her attention to the receptionist who was obviously very upset by the call.

She presumed that the caller has been an “unhappy patient” – she was wrong.

The caller phoned the Surgery and asked for the receptionist by her first and surname. The caller was put through to her and she was not expecting what came next.

The receptionist explained the nature of the call and how it involved Facebook.

A couple of days previous the Receptionist had been on Facebook. She came across a random post that one of her friends had shared. She didn’t know the person but she left a comment, which she didn’t think was upsetting or rude but obviously the person that had posted the comment felt very strongly about the comment she had left and was not happy.

The person traced the Receptionist to her place of work. How? She had it on her Facebook Profile where she worked and that she was a Receptionist.

The Receptionist was worried, as the caller had her name, knew where she worked, and of course could easily be identified due to the fact that all the staff wears name badges, with their first and surname on and she had no idea what this caller looked like – it could be anyone that walked in through the Surgery doors.

The caller told her that she was going to come along to the surgery and give her a black eye. The Receptionist was obviously worried and upset as the caller sounded angry and threatening.

She worried that the caller might wait for her outside of the surgery and follow her home.

As a Manager how would you react to this? Would you see it as a problem you would have to sort out, or seeing it started outside of work would you not want to get involved?

We then have to question should staff be putting information on their Facebook to where they work and what they do? Have you a right as a manager to say staff cannot do this? Perhaps not, but it is something that could be discuss at a team meeting, to make people aware of the consequences when they do put where they work.

A similar story to this happened when I first starting working as a Receptionist and one of my colleagues had an unusual surname, a patient that used visit the surgery on a regular basis took a liking to her. He asked out on a date a couple of times and each time she gently let him down.

The patient had mental health problems; because he knew her name he was able to get her address and number out of the telephone directory (this was before internet times). He then started stalking her, telephoning her at all hours of the day and night. The incident involved the police, many sleepless nights, which resulted in her moving out of her flat for a while. It was sorted, she changed her telephone to ex directory and everything calmed down.

At the time this incident affected the whole team. Name badges were questioned.

As a manager I always kept this story in my mind, and would only ever have first names on name badges for Receptionists who deal with the general public.

Does your staff give their full names whilst working?

Are first names sufficient on name badges for Receptionists? I think so.


© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

Keep Your Promise – Phone Back When You Say You Will



I rang a consultant’s secretary at our local hospital for the 4th time this afternoon. I phoned and left two messages last week, she didn’t get back to me. The 3rd call last Thursday she actually answered the telephone.

I was requesting some information from her and left it in her hands to get back to me with an answer. I left her my telephone number and my email address.

I had to call again for the 4th time this afternoon.

I could tell by the way the conversation went that she hadn’t done what was asked of her. No apologies, no reasons why, just that she hadn’t done it and with another empty promise she would look into it and get back to me. She actually tried to put the blame onto someone else which I felt was unfair as I had left the query with her and not a 3rd person.

By this time I was getting rather frustrated. I need to have this information so I can act accordingly. Had I voiced my annoyance that she hadn’t done the task asked of her she would have probably taken offence and the good communication we have had so far would be broken.

Will I have to ring a 5th time? I suspect I will and quite possibly she will be the one who will start to get frustrated with me – because to her it seems that I am always on the phone to her. I could possibly turn into one of those people who vent their frustration over the telephone, something that really go against anything that I believe in – but there is a limit.

Do I go over her head and speak to her supervisor or line manager? I could but I don’t really want to turn this into a complaint – yet!

Whilst I appreciate she is probably very busy, she had taken voicemails from 2 calls, and two telephone conversations all of which has taken up time, my time and her time. Had she dealt with this sooner I would not be bothering her as much as I have. I use the word “bothering her” as that is probably what she feels I am now.

I ask myself how many other people are having a similar experience and what a completely waste of time.

I feel that I am a fairly calm person, I think I need to be in my job, but there are plenty of other people who would not be quite so calm. If someone else was in my shoes they might not be quite so understand about the situation. This could have resulted in one angry caller, and one very upset secretary.

If you received a call and you promise to get back to the caller please ensure that you do, even if it is to say that you do not have what they are looking for but you are dealing with it. That’s all that is needed.

It is also important that if you expect someone to call you back that you are available to take the call, if you know that you might be tied up with other things you could ask them to leave a message.

Communication is vital; let people know what is happening at all times. Return their calls, even if it is just to say I am still dealing with your query.

Treat people with respect.


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I am a qualified Trainer and can offer courses on the following subjects:

  • Receptionists Training
  • Reception Training For The New Receptionist
  • Telephone Skills
  • Confidentiality 
  • Disability Awareness For Receptionists 
  • Leadership Training (for team leaders / supervisors)
  • Team Building 
  • Communications Skills 
  • Dealing With Difficult Situations 
  • Going to Meetings 


© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved