Managers/Supervisor Training: Registering A New Patient

Registering a New Patient

Every surgery will have new patients registering on a regular basis.

How do you register your new patients?

When I first started working at the Surgery we used to give patients a “new patients” form to complete.

The patient would fill in the form hand it back to the receptionist we would then process it and request their notes from their previous Doctors.

Sometimes we would not see that patient for a long time, other times they would be regular patients to the surgery.

I was made up to Surgery Supervisor – one of my roles was to look at ways of improving the services in the Surgery.

One of them was when registering new patients.

When a new patient came into register I would take them aside to one of the rooms. I would ask them to complete the form(s) once for each member of their family and I left them for a few minutes.

When I went back I quickly checked that the forms had all been filled out correctly – this saved time if they had not.

Something very important is that to remember than not everyone can read and write. It is amazing just how many people I came across that could not do that. (please read blog How to deal with people who have difficulty reading and writing)

When I had checked that the forms were all completed correctly I would have a look to see who/ how many were in the family


  • Was it just a single person?
  • Was it a couple?
  • Was it a family – if so how many children did they have?
  • Or did they have an elderly parent living at home with them?
  • Were they a Carer for someone?


  • Well by determining this it would give me some idea of who they might want to see if they needed to come to the surgery.


Practice Nurses

Health Visitors

District Nurses



Groups that the Surgery organised such as the Carers Group


By finding out this information I could tell the patient a bit more about the practice. Information that would be best suited to them.

I could explain about the Doctors, there was a Doctor that was extremely good with

There was a Doctor that was excellent in dermatology and a Doctor that dealt in paediatrics. I explained that we had a female doctor but she only worked part-time and told them the days she worked.  Often the new patient might be pregnant and I would tell them about the services we had and when our weekly anti natal clinics was held.  If they had an elderly person living with them or a disabled child/adult I told them about the Carers Group when held at the Surgery.

N.B. This was before Practices had Practice Booklets. So no other information was   available at this stage.

I would tell them our policy of requesting  a prescription. Told them what times were best to call for appointments and home visits and best times to avoid. I explained that we were closed at lunchtime but open until 7.00pm.

I would try to give the new patient as much information as I could that was best suited to them. After all a single man would not be interested much in our anti natal clinic would he?

But the biggest help would be when the new patient they had some sort of idea on what
they were asking for and when this perhaps was at our busiest time i.e first thing in the morning it certainly helped the receptionist as she could often deal with the request quickly and efficiently. Rather that the patient asking several questions over the phone – which I had been able to answer when the registered.

Therefore in my experience spending a bit of time with someone at the start saves so much
time further down the line.


Receptionist Training: Taking A Message

In today’s society emails are used as a way of communicating messages. But you must be sure that you know that the person you are sending the email to reads their emails on a regular basis.

Working with Doctors Nurses and other Healthcare professionals over the years has proved that this sometimes email is not the best way to pass a message on.

I have worked with Doctors that simply do not check their emails and of course some messages will be meant for a team rather than an individual – such as District Nurses or Health Visitors. Your practice might have a counsellor or a physiotherapist that only comes in once a week and they might not have access to a computer.

Some of our Reception staff was absolutely great on the desk – but not great on IT skills and a few unable to use email so all of this had to be taken into consideration when passing on messages.

Your practice will have a procedure of passing on messages – ensure that you are fully aware of their protocol on message taking.

The practice that I worked in had several ways of passing messages let me share some of these with you.

The Doctors had a MESSAGE BOOK  that was kept  in Reception at all times. The enabled all the doctors to read the book and take the appropriate action if needed. Ensure that your message book is set out in a clear way. Have a columns for

  1.         the date
  2.        the time the message was taken
  3.        Who the message is for (Dr’s Name)
  4.        And signature of person taking the message.

Another Surgery that I worked in had a message pad instead of a book. The message pad had carbon copies and they could tear off the message and a copy would be kept in the book. Its really how your Surgery best works.

 The Doctors also had a VISIT BOOK that was kept in Reception – this had all the details of patients that had requested home visits. It is vital that you enter the correct
time the call was taken. Your visit book should have columns for

  1.        Date
  2.        time visit was requested
  3.        name address and telephone number of patient
  4.        Contact details of person requesting the visit (ie. family/carer)
  5.        Date of birth of patient (age can be imporant ie elderly/baby)
  6.        Brief details of why the patient needs a
  7.        Signature of person taking the visit.

Receptionists and Admin staff had a RECEPTIONIST MESSAGE FOLDER – general messages to all of the Reception team were put in this book. Everyone had to sign and
date it when they had read it – it was their responsibility to read it every day. Memo’s from various departments were also added to this folder.

All Reception and Admin staff had their own individual staff in trays – any individual message would be placed in their tray for them to read at the beginning of their shift.

All other Healthcare professionals within the Practice all had in trays and messages would be left here and it was their responsibility to ensure that the messages were collected on a regular basis. Some of the various departments had message books like the Doctors and Receptionists – but these books were kept in their tray at all times.

Here are some important tips on how you should take a message.

Every time you take a message over the telephone it is important that you take the following information:
ALWAYS put who the message if for
ALWAYS date and time the message
ALWAYS write the message clearly – someone else has to read it.

ALWAYS get a contact name and telephone number if appropriate
ALWAYS sign your name at the end of the message.

With all messages if you think that the message is urgent always ensure that you pass it onto someone for immediate attention. Do not leave a urgent message in a book or a tray.

Often you may take a message on a Monday and the person the message is meant for is not in for a few days – or could even be on holiday – without a date or time they have no way of knowing when the message was taken.

A message could be used in a court of law. It would be classed as evidence. It would be proof that correct procedure was carried out – if the time, or date of the message is not included your Practice would not be able to relay on this evidence.

It is important to sign the message – if the person who the message is for has a question then they know exactly who to speak to rather than having to speak to several members of staff get before getting the right person.

Try not to put message on “stick it” pad as often they can get attached to another piece of correspondence and often turn up in completely the wrong place and often days or weeks later.

ALWAYS take a contact telephone or extension number from the person leaving the message in case they need to be contacted – never take it for granted that the person the
message is for will have that number. You might even have reason to phone the
person back yourself for some reason.

And it is very important to store you message books or diaries away when they are full – your practice could need this information years after the entry if needed in a court of law.