GDPR Video and Quiz for Receptionists & Administrators #guest blog #practice index

General Data Protection Regulations 


You can now test your GDPR knowledge with a fantastic new quiz from our friends at Practice Index. There’s also a short video which tells you all you need to know about GDPR.



Handling Difficult Patients #Guest Post #PracticeIndex

I would like to thank Practice Index for letting me share their post on ‘Handling Difficult Patients’. Practice Index is a support site for GP practice managers and surgery staff. Their popular online discussion forum allows you to ask questions and gain advice and guidance on any surgery issues from the community of NHS professionals. They also have a resources library within the forum which contains hundreds of policies and protocols that you can use in your own practice. You can join the Practice Managers’ forum for free by clicking here:

Concept of relax with businessman doing yoga

April 28, 2015 by Practice Index in Patients

Handling Difficult Patients

Dealing with difficult patients at the reception desk and in the waiting room is, like it or not, part and parcel of your job as a Practice Manager. It’s your responsibility to demonstrate confident and compassionate handling of difficult patients, displaying techniques your team – especially newer recruits – can learn and gain self-assurance from.

Keep Calm

Aggressive patients are particularly likely to try and bully you into an argument, but your role here is to stay calm and unemotional. An emotional response from you – irritation, laughter or anger – will only fuel their attack and potentially cause a situation to escalate. In nursing as much as in the general practice, sensible steps to take would include the following:

–  Speak softly and abstain from being judgemental
–  Put a little more physical distance between yourself and the patient and avoid intense eye contact which could be seen as  provocative
–  Be in control of the situation without seeming either demanding or overly authoritative
–  Show your intention to rectify the situation rather than reprimanding the patient for their behaviour

Defy Logic

An angry patient won’t respond to logical arguments, so try to resist the temptation to reason with someone who is clearly in a terrible temper. It’s also important in situations like these to not resort to all-out grovelling if the practice is not at fault. Accepting responsibility is irreversible and could do the practice damage, as well as your own reputation. What you can do, however, is apologise for the particular inconvenience your patient is aggrieved by at this moment – and offer what immediate action you can (if any) to rectify the situation. Make a note of all complaints received, formal or informal – this includes patients storming out of hanging up on phone calls.

Rise Above It

Patients can be rude and downright insulting on a bad day, but try to refrain from letting them know what you think of them or how they’ve made you feel. Stay professionally detached and see this objectivity as your ‘protection zone’ from hurt. Ignore their rudeness and you may find that, with no visible impact, their insults start to die down. Equally, treating an angry adult like the adult they are – despite the toddlerish tantrum they’re throwing – should encourage them to gently return to adult form if you’re consistent enough with it. Patronising, belittling treatment will only inflame that childish rage.

We’ve all come up against it in our time and this just scratches the surface in coping tools for difficult patients. Why not share your best advice for diffusing tempers and managing quarrelsome individuals in the waiting room?

Guest Post / Practice Index / GP Practice Managers Forum


Guest Blog


by Practice Index in GP Practice Management forum

Did you know that we have a dedicated GP Practice Managers’ Forum right here, with over 500 Practice Managers from all over the country already signed up and actively chatting? Registration is free and takes moments, so get involved here – you’re minutes away from joining a community of like-minded individuals all over the UK for advice, tip-sharing and general discussion.

Topics already active are as broad as experiences of verbal abuse at the reception desk to problems with unauthorised cars in the car park, CQC inspection experiences to thoughts on text alerts. And, of course, a whole host of more light-hearted topics, you’ll have to see for yourself, plus a useful Marketplace board for those looking to buy, sell and swap things – work related or not. There’s also a board for putting equipment tenders out and an area for resource-sharing. Users are welcome to contribute to and initiate brand new discussions on the forum. This is your forum, so let us know if there’s something you’d like to see on there and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.


As well as offering a private messaging function and personal inbox for all users, the forum exists to provide Practice Managers with a protected space within which to discuss the varied – and often controversial – issues surrounding their careers and the NHS as a whole. The forum is deliberately not Google indexed, so discussions cannot be accessed from a Google search and can only be seen by signed-up members of the forum. We think it’s really important for those working in your positions to have access to outlets like this – a safe place for chat and even, we daresay, a bit of a laugh. Sometimes this is just as important as anything else – we know that!

So why not pop in and introduce yourself? There’s a board set up especially for newcomers called Introductions, so this may be your first port of call once you join. Or just sign up and have a nose around – there’s plenty being debated on there right now, and we’d love for you to get involved.

Guest Blog: How to Diagnose a Difficult Patient #Practice Index


I would like to thank Practice Index for their guest post. Practice Index is a site where GP Practice Managers and surgery staff can go and read reviews of suppliers and add their own. Suppliers are then ranked according to feedback received making it easy to find reliable and trusted companies.



How To Diagnose a Difficult Patient

Blame Dr Google or the ‘era of entitlement’, but the difficult patient is on the rise and they’re costing your practice dearly – and not just financially. GPs with a high number of problem patients – or ‘heart-sinks’ as they’re best known in the profession – are less likely to report feelings of job satisfaction, and more likely to feel burned out. More often, it’s the doctor-patient relationship that needs to be assessed rather than merely the gripes of the patient, and we’re here to help.

Tell-tale symptoms

Studies suggest that most GPs will have around eight ‘heart-sinks’ on their patient list. A problem patient is one who – for whatever reason – impedes the GP’s ability to establish a therapeutic relationship. Someone who refuses to assume the typical patient role, and who may have ideas and beliefs contrary to those of the caregiver. Typical problem patients are men and women over forty, often with marital or other family problems. Sometimes they are isolated in their domestic situation, and may have co-existing depression. New GPs inheriting a patient list can often spot a problem patient a mile off: bulging medical file and appointment / referral / investigation list as long as their arm. A study in the 1950s separated problem patients into the four categories below, and it seems not much has changed…

  • The dependent clinger
  • The entitled demander
  • The manipulative help-rejecter and
  • The self-destructive denier

Relationship surgery

Interestingly, doctors polled in the seventies painted a portrait of the ‘ideal patient’ as one who was trusting, non-complaining, compliant and undemanding. Patients who were perceived as not being seriously ill but complaining, emotional, and uncooperative were often discharged from care early or referred to psychiatric care. Could it be that some of these attitudes remain today, and that part of the problem lies in a GP’s perception of their patient?

 Know your team

As a practice manager you will know better than anyone that GPs can often fall into a number of personality brackets – more of that in another post soon – and it’s your responsibility as overseer to manage personality clashes between doctor and patient. Is the problem actually being exacerbated (or created) by the insecurities of a new doctor, or one with too much on her plate at home? Is it a GP who won’t seek second opinions, or one whose tolerance levels need checking? Talk to your GPs about their patient gripes and see whether the problem can be alleviated by their own perceptions.

…And if all else fails, try encouraging them to book with a different GP next time. Perhaps one with a specialism in their area of need.


Guest post by Practice Index.