First Impressions #Patients Experience at Registering at a New Surgery #Guest Post


I would like to thank my guest post for sharing her experience when registering with a new Surgery. Whist I am sure that not all surgeries are like this, it just highlights the importance of first impressions. Did you know that people make a decision about the people they meet within seconds of meeting them?

 You never get a second change to make a good first impression.

Guest Post:

First Impressions:

We have just moved to a new area and one of the things on my to-do list was register the family with a local doctor.

I went round one afternoon and told the receptionist I was new to the area and asked if I could register my family with the practice. The Receptionist behind the desk asked me for my address (I’m assuming to see if I was in the vicinity of the practice) and once I explained where we were living she handed me a bunch of forms to be filled out, so and off I went.

A few days later, armed with my filled out forms I went back to the surgery. I had a few queries for some of the questions because we have just moved back to the Country after being away for nearly 8 years so I left them blank so I could ask the receptionist.

When I arrived the surgery it was really busy – not only in the waiting room but there was a large queue forming behind me waiting for the front desk.

There appeared to be only one receptionist on and it seemed she was busy and  appeared ‘flustered’ at dealing with everything and everyone.

When it was my turn I approached the desk and explained I had my registration forms and I had a few queries if she didn’t mind helping me with.

 I can’t say the receptionist was very warm towards helping me, she asked me what the problem was and was very abrupt with her answers – I got the feeling she didn’t quite understand what I was asking so all of a sudden she just picked up the phone, dialed a number and handed me the phone saying “Speak to them and explain, they might come down.

Firstly speak to who? I was not given a name of the person I was about to speak to or the department they were in. Secondly, could I not have been taken to a quieter area around to the side of the reception desk which was away from the main queue of people (it’s quite a large semi-circle desk) I could have then spoken to the person on the other end in privacy. 

When I was speaking to the Receptionist I had my back to the queue of people behind me and therefore had a certain amount of privacy, but now while I was on the phone I found myself going through my private affairs in front of a queue of people and a waiting room full of others.

Whilst I was waiting on someone answering the phone the receptionist started dealing with a lady who was stood right next to me discussing her blood test & what she needed it for? Did that lady realise I could hear her business?

A lady answered the phone with a simple “Yes”. I was taken aback a bit at first as The Receptionist on the front desk didn’t tell me who she was putting me through to and the person answering the telephone didn’t give their name when she answered the phone.

The lady on the end of the phone was every it as abrupt as the receptionist to be honest – answered in short sharp answers and I was made to feel like I was bothering her.

I finally found out the answers I needed so I could go ahead and fill in the gaps on my forms.

A few days later I telephoned the surgery to make a routine appointment for an injection I have every few months and this time I was relieved to have a polite, friendly receptionist on the other end of the phone – she explained she would need a doctor to call with regards to my appointment and booked me in for a telephone consultation five days later between 10 & 10.30am.

I’m afraid it came to no surprise when five days later the call didn’t happen when it should have. I had almost given up hope of getting one at all, when the doctor called at around 12.30.

So I have to admit my first impressions so far haven’t been very good. I have since been speaking to a few local people and they all say what a good surgery it is, so I hope from here on in I find the same.

First impressions to me are important – they are the moments that are most likely to stick in your mind … whether they’re good or bad.


Thank you for sharing your story, and I hope that this perhaps might have been a one-off and you go on to have a better experience. 

I have written a post that you might find helpful on the importance of informing New Patients of your Surgery protocols:

Registering A New Patient

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.