Privacy Curtains – the Protocol


I speak a lot in my blogs of Team Work. As a manager you can only be as successful as your team will allow you to be.

It is vital to have support from your team. Communication is a two-way thing. Your team not only learn from you but you can learn from them too. After all they are the ones facing the many obstacles that come up on a day-to-day basis. Learn to listen to your team and let them know that you are on their side.  Often staff can see Management as the “enemy” it does not have to be like that. Make your team feel that they are part of YOUR team.

A thank you at the end of the day can mean so much. When asking a team member to do a task always ask in a polite way – and always thank them and tell them that you appreciate their help.

The best way to share good ideas is at staff meetings – always use staff meetings to your advantage – include the staff in these meetings – make them a two-way thing – staff will feel that they are part of it that way and will be more inclined to attend.

Let me share with you an example of how a new protocol/procedure was written for the Surgery from one of these meeting.

It was the normal monthly Receptionists Meeting – the agenda had gone out and as always everyone had the opportunity of adding an item to the agenda.

One of the Receptionists had added “Privacy Curtains” to the agenda.

The meeting started and came to the part of the agenda that she had added.

She suggested that the girls at the Reception desk have access to privacy curtains as she had recently had an experience whereby her own father had collapsed  and died in his own Doctors waiting room with a heart attack and was left lying on the floor until the Doctor came out to him and took the necessary action. During this time patients were all watching what was going on – and the receptionists at the Surgery found this quite stressful.  Our Receptionist felt that her dad was on “show” and found this quite upsetting.

So, from a personal experience we wrote a Surgery policy on what would happen in the event of someone collapsing in Reception.

Some of the points that were taken into consideration were:

  • Who to notify in the event of a patient collapsing – first the Doctor – but as you know there is not always a Doctor on the premises. So your receptionists need to know what to do in that event – I would suggest calling the nurse, or if she is not on the premises call an ambulance.
  • A Receptionist would they get the privacy curtains and put these around the patient giving them a bit of privacy.
  • If in the rare event that a patient has died you might need to evacuate the waiting room as the patient might be there some time until the appropriate people have been notified. Maybe direct the patients into another area or another room.
  • It is important that your Receptionists will need to know what to do in the event of an evacuation.

It is rare that this happens – but it is how you or your team deal with it that can make all the difference.

Has your Surgery got such a protocol in place?


When Making an Appointment

It is important when making an appointment for a patient that you are clear about the time, date and even the month.  Often hospital appointments can be months in

If the patient is booking their appointment in person at the reception desk always try and make an appointment convenient to the patient.

Often if you give an appointment and it’s not convenient that the patient will either not turn up or phone to cancel and re book. Try to get it right first time.

When you book an appointment at the reception desk always give the patient an appointment card – or put the appointment on a piece of paper.

Often patients will “insist” that they will remember their appointment but quite often they will end up phoning to check when it is – or worse still not turn up.

Always put on the appointment card

  • The day       (Monday)
  • The date     (16th)
  • The month  (September) and
  • The time      (11.00 am)
  • Who the appointment is with (Dr / Nurse / other)

If the patient is making the appointment over the telephone again please give clear instructions on when their appointment is. Again repeat as above.

If you don’t give the day  (Monday)  quite often people will get their date (16th) mixed up and often turn up the day before or after – this is quite a common thing especially some  elderly people.  People will remember a day rather than a date.

When giving an appointment over the telephone always speak slowly and clearly – the person on the other end of the phone might be writing it down.

At the end of the conversation ask if they are happy with the appointment – this will give them every opportunity if they are anyway unsure.

Every Doctors Surgery and Hospital have a high volume of DNA’s (Did not attend) each day and every day through the year. Therefore it is essential to try and avoid any unnecessary misunderstanding over appointments.

When making ANY appointment always make sure that you have the correct patient. You will often have patients have the same name or similar names. If unsure ask for DOB (date
of birth). But please remember confidentiality at all times.