Questions and Answers / GP Doctor Consultations #Guest Post

I would like to recommend a brilliant site called GP Doctor ( )who have kindly allowed me to share with you one of their posts. As a Receptionist you will all be very familiar with many of the questions below, and maybe even some that you have not come across or had the answer before.

I hope you enjoy it.

Guest Post

GP Doctor Consultations – Question and Answer Session

GP Doctor Consultation Q&A
Patients often have many questions about the GP Doctor consultation process and all of the questions asked below are genuine questions posed by patients. Hopefully it addresses some misconceptions about the GP consultation.

How long does my GP Doctor have to see me? It seems very rushed.

10 minutes. Realistically 7 minutes as the 10 minutes includes calling the patient to the consultation room, referring if required, prescribing and writing our notes (which is very important for your records so there is an accurate picture of your medical history which helps in future consultations).

Why not offer longer appointments?

There is already a recruitment crisis in GP and currently there are not enough GPs in the UK. If we offered longer appointment times, fewer patients would be seen in the day, contributing to longer waiting times for appointments.

Why have I been waiting to be seen? My appointment was 15 minutes ago.

The patient before you may have been very unwell with multiple complicated conditions requiring more time. Furthermore your GP may be running a little late if they had to discuss a patient with hospital specialists or had to deal with other emergency situations or telephone calls. It could also be simply that the patients seen before you presented with multiple issues that they wished resolved.

Is your time more important than mine that I have been waiting so long?

No GP feels their time is more valuable than the patient’s time. We do try to keep to time. However situations out with our control contribute to sometimes running late as also mentioned above.

I am only 5 minutes late. Surely this is not an issue?

Bear in mind that you may only feel it is 5 minutes. However if lots of patients attend late for their appointment your GP is then automatically running late for patients later in the day.

What if I have a list of things?

You may have a list. But if you tell me this at the start of the consultation, I may be better able to help you. Mentioning this at the last minute makes it more difficult as we may have spent a large proportion of time on only 1 issue.

I don’t come to the GP often. Surely I am entitled to have longer or discuss all my issues?

We try to discuss and manage as much as we can in 1 consultation. However bear in mind that there are other people waiting so it doesn’t mean I can solve all your problems in 1 appointment especially if they are more routine matters and you have, for example, 5 things you want addressed.

Years ago my GP had time to have some social chit chat. Why not now?

It’s not that your GP is not interested but is pushed for time and the next patient will already be waiting to be seen. We feel it is important to actively engage with patients and firmly believe that part of this is building a good doctor-patient relationship. Unfortunately due to time constraints we may not be able to talk to you for as long as we would like.

The waiting room only has a few patients in it. Surely the GP must not be very busy?

This shows an effective appointment system that is working well and not large queues still waiting to be seen.

Why can’t my GP see patients constantly in the whole day?

See the other related post “GP Myths – Appointments” which answers this question.

Why do you not know all my medical history when I come to see you?

It may be the first time you have met the doctor and he/she will not have had time before seeing you to go through all of your notes in any great detail. In addition it is better for us to ask you to get accurate information rather than just rely on the notes.

Have you read my notes before seeing me?

With anywhere between 5,000 – 15,000 patients we can’t know everything about your medical history off by heart. We probably haven’t had a chance to look at your notes in great detail before seeing you. However if we need to know more we can ask you or look at your medical notes during the consultation.

The GP called me back today. Why is he/she asking me what I wish to discuss?

We cannot assume why you are here. You may be attending to discuss something else and that’s why even if we have asked you to come back we ask at the beginning the reason for your attendance.

My GP is looking at the computer during the consultation. I’m sure he/she is using Google to diagnose me?

No we are not diagnosing you using our computer. We need to look at the computer for your medical notes. We also may use the computer to check doses and local guidelines regarding drug prescriptions.

Why is my GP asking me what is wrong? Doesn’t he/she know? I just want a diagnosis.

If your GP asks something similar to “What do you think may be causing your symptoms?”. It isn’t because he/she wants you to self-diagnose. You may have thoughts about what you feel may be causing your symptoms or condition. Everyone has thoughts about what may be wrong. If we know this we can answer questions you may have regarding this or to address misconceptions you may have. Furthermore it also helps us identify how much detail we need to give as you may already know a great deal about your symptoms/condition. If we don’t know what you think may be causing your symptoms you may leave the consultation feeling that your questions haven’t been answered or that you are adamant it is something else. We don’t want you to leave thinking “My GP told me I have X condition. I think I have Y condition”.

Why does my GP ask so many questions rather than just tell me what is wrong?

Most diagnosis by all doctors is reached from information gathered from the patient. Therefore it is important that we gather as much relevant information as necessary to do this. Investigations can be helpful to diagnose but remember most diagnosis is reached from talking to you. In addition we do not have access to immediate scans and blood results.

My GP looks at a book for drug doses. Why?

We can’t remember all drugs doses and sometimes have to look these up. It’s better to be accurate if we are unsure. In addition there are multiple doses for children depending on their age.

I have been asked to come back for a follow up. Should I?

Yes. If your GP feels you should attend again to review your condition it is important to do this. This will also prevent asking for an emergency appointment in case things haven’t improved. If your GP has asked that you come back in a few weeks he/she may also want to see how your condition is evolving or discuss blood results that you have yet to have done.

I came back a few weeks later and another GP said I had something else? Was I misdiagnosed?

Not necessarily. Symptoms evolve. We can only base our diagnosis based on what you present with at the time of seeing us. Symptoms and conditions evolve over time.

I came about my sore foot. Why am I having my BP taken or asked about smoking or if I am up to date with my smears?

We may try to opportunistically help with health promotion. You may not attend to see us often and it may be the only chance we get to discuss these areas which can help improve your health.

Walk in my shoes – would you treat me any differently.

A moving short clip from you tube from Central Adelaide Local Health Network.

Any one of us could be one of the people in this film. We have and will be patients and loved ones at some point in our lives. Treat people with the respect they deserve.


To often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest art of caring all of which have the potential to turn a life around. 

Leo Buscaglia (1924 – 1998) 




Dementia and the Carer #DementiaAwarenessWeek



There are currently 800,000 people with dementia in the UK.

Over 17,000 are younger people with dementia and there will be over a million people with dementia in the UK by 2021.

I have witnessed dementia first hand. I had an uncle that suffered this awful illness it not only robbed him of his life but my Auntie lost the life she had shared with him for 60 years. She cared for him with love and dignity 24/7 until the day he died.

She was a proud woman whose pride wouldn’t let her ask for help. I feel the illness actually affected her more in so many ways than it did him.

Whist he lived in his own world, she would try to give him normality. He was extremely well looked after, always well fed, clothed and entertained – sadly he never remembered any of this, he struggled to remember most things. The days that he was like his old self sadly became fewer and fewer.

It was starting to take its toil on my Auntie. She had many sleepless nights when he would be up walking around the house looking for the cat that they didn’t have, shouting out the window at 2 am at the cows that were walking down the main road with the fireman behind them signing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, the smell of burning when he put a plastic bowl filled with water onto the electric cooker. The flooded kitchen when he left the hot tap running all night and the lovely flowers that he had planted with such love and care some years before ripped from the ground and tossed in a pile in the middle of the garden.

He would go from being calm and almost like his “old self” to being rude and aggressive. He could be hurtful in things he would say to her. On a couple of occasions he would have an outburst of violence and because of that she actually starting being afraid of him. She never knew what was coming next.

With my help we managed to get him a place in a day centre 2 days a week. I could see the relief in her eyes when this was sorted. She planned to use those days to have her hair done, take a long hot bath without fear he might be getting up to no good and shopping with her friend, the simple things of life that most of us take for granted. This all came to a crushing end when he point blank refused to go, he wanted to be at home with his Maureen. She gave in and the hairdressers and the shops were put on hold.

When they went out she had to get taxi’s. Travelling on buses was not an option anymore, he had caused too many scene. She used a local taxi company who understood her needs, but this all came at a cost she could ill afford.

I could go on, anyone that has ever known someone with dementia will understand that what I have said is just a tip of the iceberg. Those that have never come across a family devastated by this awful illness count yourself lucky, and I hope you never do.

She told me she got up to another bleak day ahead to find he had a temperature and was generally unwell, he couldn’t tell her what was wrong but she just knew as well as the dementia there was something else going on, he was more aggressive and he was not in the best of form. She phoned the surgery and asked for a visit, the surgery asked if she could come down, not being one to cause a fuss she took the appointment offered to her for 09.30.

She had to get my Uncle up from bed, bath him, help him dress and try and get him to take some breakfast, and then get him to the surgery for his appointment. It was one of those days that he really didn’t want to oblige. She recalled as they got to the surgery the waiting room was full. She struggled to keep him in one place. His voice raised at times getting a lot of attention from others in the waiting room. A couple of mothers gathered their children closer. He started to get aggressive and started shouting, and then he stood up in front of everyone and wet himself. My poor Auntie was mortified. She felt sick, she wanted the ground to open up and swallow her. She told me she went to the Reception Desk and was so relieved to find the “nice Receptionist” there. The Receptionist showed them into a side room and went and got the nurse.

The nurse suspected that he might have had a urine infection. That was the easy part; they then had to try and get him to do a sample. He wasn’t having any of it and didn’t cooperate one bit. Finally after a lot persuasion they got the sample and with a script my Auntie started her journey home having to face getting my wet uncle bathed and dressed again for the 2nd time that day and it wasn’t even 11.00.

I tried to support my Auntie as much as I could. There were times she would let her barrier down and really tell me how she felt. She told me she often felt very isolated and confessed that at times she resented my Uncle, with a tear in her eye she admitted that sometimes she would snap at him through sheer exhaustion and as she looked at that betrayed look in his eyes and she would be eaten up with guilt. She was tired, lonely and most of all she felt that she had already lost him, this beautiful, caring most gentle husband who would always go out of his way to help others who had fallen a victim to this horrible disease.

I don’t know how she coped. It was the sheer love for him that got her through those bleak dark days.

I tried to get her help, but she refused. She saw it as her duty to look after him without a thought for herself.

The support for the carer is every bit as important as it is for the patient. They are unsung heroes.

There are 670,000 carers of people with dementia in the UK and these carers of people with dementia save the UK over £8 billion a year.

Carers can be family, friends or paid workers. They will often accompany the person they are caring for to a Doctors appointment, be it at the Surgery or Hospital. It is important that people with dementia have regular check-ups and equally as important for the carer to have regular check-ups.

My Auntie often found it difficult to get appointments to fit in caring for her husband. Early morning or late evening appointments were the worse for her. My uncle would not get up until late morning and for her that gave her the chance of getting things done in the house, and if she woke him early it would often result in him having a bad day.

It is important that anyone caring for someone is giving consideration and understanding as their life is difficult enough.


Sadly my uncle died. She was eaten up with grief, asking herself could she have done more. Lost in the endless time she now faced. Friends had moved away, neighbours she didn’t know anymore.

She was suffering another loss for a second time.


© 2011-2017 Reception Training all rights reserved

Eye Contact and a Smile


A friend of mine had to go for an X-Ray yesterday at his local hospital. The hospital is in the process of going through some building work and many of the departments have been moved around – so finding the X-Ray department was somewhat of a challenge.

He followed the temporary signs to the X-Ray department and upon arrival asked the Receptionist if he was in the right place.

He was quite surprised by her attitude, he was made to feel as if he was a nuisance, and an inconvenience for being there. She replied quite abruptly that he was, took his referral letter and told him to take a seat.

At no time did the Receptionist give him eye contact, smile or show any signs of any customer care.

He sat and waited. There were another 4 people in the waiting room.

A nurse came out and called his name, the receptionist rudely snapped at the nurse and asked what she was doing and asked if she had taken from the bottom of the pile. My friend said that you could feel the nurse’s embarrassment at being spoken to in such a way, her red face for all to see.

The nurse explained to the Receptionist that the other people in the waiting room in fact were waiting to be accessed by her colleague before being seen.

My friend got up and followed the nurse, who was absolutely lovely. She welcomed him with a smile. She asked him how he was, and spoke about the weather and held a general conversation. He found her extremely friendly and this put him at ease.

I asked my friend how he felt about the two completely different approaches when be dealt with and he said that going into a Department people can be often worried and concerned as they could be going for tests that could have such a big impact of their life. Many people that are having tests at a hospital are feeling anxious and do not need to be met with rude staff.

He found the Receptionist unhelpful, uncaring and actually felt uneasy when being dealt with by her. He also found it embarrassing when she spoke in such an abrupt way to the Nurse, and he felt that she should not have done that.

As for the nurse, he found her lovely, helpful and put him at ease within the first couple of minutes. He felt able to ask questions about his test something he wouldn’t felt he was able to do with the Receptionists.

Staff have such a big impact on patients in the way that they deal with them, from the moment they walk into your organisation whether it be a hospital, or a Surgery every single member of your staff should treat every single patient with respect.

Eye contact and a smile speaks volumes.

A helpful Daily Checklist

 As a Receptionist the Reception area is your responsibility from the minute you start. There will be several things that you will need to do at the start of the day and also the end of the day. These will vary from each organisation.

It is a good idea to have a written checklist for the start of the day and the end of the day – especially when you first start in the role, often windows can be left open because you forgot that you should have closed them or other similar things.

For organisations that close at lunchtime they may also have one for lunchtime.

Having such a list is also a great help if someone is covering for you when you are on holiday or perhaps off work because of sickness. It will ensure that all tasks have been carried out as you would normally do. It will save on jobs not being done, and will in turn ensure that the Reception area is run smoothly – and a credit to you for organising this in your absence.

It just needs to be simple but it can be so effective and in the long run saves you so much time.

Here is an example of a checklist you could have and of course every Reception Area will have different tasks to carry out so you can design one to fit your organisation.

You can simply have a list and just follow that or you can actually tick off the list as you go along – some Receptionists keep a their list as some of their tasks only take place every other day or maybe once or twice a week.

The form is helpful for new Receptionists, Receptionists that perhaps do not normally work at the beginning of the day or the end of the day and for any member of staff that might be called on to help open or shut the surgery – this is more than likely to happen an emergency such as staff sickness and one of the management team will be asked to help out – believe you me they will be so grateful if they have such a list available on guiding them through on what to do.

I know from experience how I wished I had such a form when I started my role as a Receptionist – I worked with a particular receptionist who had no interest in training me for the role and therefore not always fully explaining on what should and should not be done. I therefore try to made things as easy for new staff and any staff that is training new staff – and the form is always a great hit.

You can make the list as simple or as complex as you like.


Daily Checklist




  • Put phones on and check answer machine messages.
  • Pass on any relevant messages
  • Put phone on night phone and put answer machine message on
  • Check Fax machines and distribute any faxes
  • Check fax machine has paper in
  • Ensure that visitors book is on reception and ready to use.
  • Check diary and action as necessary
  • Put visitors book away
  • Put diary away
  • Ensure that all patient information is locked away
  • Open windows if appropriate
  • Ensure all windows are closed
  • Ensure that Reception is tidy
  • Ensure you leave the Reception area tidy
  • Put Reception computer on
  • Put office computers on (if required)
  • Check Reception computer is off
  • Check office computers are off
  • Empty all rubbish bins in Reception into main bin
Mon / Thurs
  • Get confidential waste ready for collection at 11.00
  • Money from petty cash to pay milkman (remember to get receipt and put in petty cash)
When Used
  • Check Conference room is left clean and tidy
  • Check Conference room is left clean and tidy



The Importance of Receptionists Training

imagesCAFXOIRQLast week I held a training course for new Receptionists.

I am very passionate about staff training. As a previous manager I felt that I owed it to staff to give them the appropriate training when starting as a new receptionist, secretary or administrator and to also provide longer service members of staff with more advanced training.

After all you would not hire a mechanic or a chief if they had not had the appropriate training – so why should a Receptionist be any different, after all they are the ambassadors of your surgery and therefore you want them to get it right.

It never ceases to amaze how new Receptionists (and fairly often a longer servicing member of staff) know so little about their role – especially the little things that could make their role so much better, and in turn run a more efficient Reception area and how it could be better for your surgery and therefore giving first class Customer Care to your patients and customers.

It always gives me enormous pleasure to be able to share with the group my experiences; how I gained my knowledge I was sharing with them and tips on how to make their role so much more. How they can become a Receptionist that any Practice would be proud of to have on their team.

What do I base my training on? Simply from experience – I too once sat in their seat, not knowing some of the things that I am now sharing with them. I embraced my role back then with enthusiasm and was hungry to learn more. By doing this I was always first to volunteer to go on another training course, taking on my NVQ and achieving so much more. This all came about from enjoying the courses, learning from the courses wanting to learn even more and putting all of these things into practice. I am forever grateful that my practice believed in me. I hope to pass on that enthusiasm  that on to others.

From a receptionists I worked my way up to a surgery supervisor, and then on to a Manager with another practice. Every single step on that ladder was built on the knowledge that I had learnt the qualifications that I got and the experience that I had gained. You too might have a Receptionist that has that hunger to learn and climb the ladder – can you think of one at your practice? Or are they there but not had the right training for them or you to see the potential they might have.

You might ask yourself why you should give them training. There will be costs involved. Staff will be away their posts to attend courses and perhaps extra costs to cover their hours while they are away.

Investing in staff training is vital. If you cannot afford to send all of your staff on training course why not bring the trainer into your surgery – or better still train one person up in your surgery to then train the others.

What are the benefits of staff training?

  • Staff will value you as an employer by supporting them in this way.
  • Staff will have more confidence in dealing with issues that might arise at Reception.
  • Their job will have more meaning; it will be more rewarding and satisfying.
  • Their job will become more interesting – the more they learn the more they understand
  • They will be valued by your patients and customers as they will be able to offer a first class service.
  • They will enjoy testing and improving on their skills – and hopefully want to learn more.

What are the training needs of Reception Staff?

  • Receptionist Training (aimed at new Receptionists)
  • Patient Confidentiality
  • Telephone Techniques
  • Dealing with difficult patients
  • Basic Health and Safety
  • Disability Awareness
  • Team Leader training (ideal for those that are being promoted within)


Invest in your staff – well trained staff are confident staff

Receptionist Training – The Perfect Image


  • Professional
  • Efficient
  • Reliable
  • Friendly
  • Expert
  • Caring
  • Trustworthy


The Way you dress perhaps wearing a company uniform. The way you talk and the actions you take add up to being professional.


Always see a task through if you are able.  This given the customer the opinion that you are efficient. If you cannot see a task through then make sure that you pass it on to someone who will.


Always be a good timekeeper. Do not let yourself and others down. Always do the tasks asked of you. Being reliable means that your team can count on you.


SMILE – even when you are on the phone – a friendly face makes people feel at ease. Everyone likes to see a friendly face.


Be confident – understand the task that you are doing. If you are not sure ASK someone. All of these will make you an expert in what you are doing.


Remember one of the most important things is to care. People will be more approachable if they find you are caring. It does not mean you have to be a “walk over” or agree with the other person but to care i a very important value to have.


To be trustworthy is the utmost. To be trusted is something that is earned. If you are trustworthy your team members and customers will trust your judgement and value your opinions.