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) 

 

 

 

Staff Appraisals


images

 

I had a friend contact me the other day – she wasn’t happy – her yearly appraisal was due and she had no idea what to write.

I knew how she was feeling as I too have been in her shoes – dreading the “meeting” and honestly believing it was a one-way process.

That was until I became a manager and had to hold appraisals for staff. Believe me it’s not that easy.

The worse is when you have a member of staff sitting in front of you with nothing to say, with very little on their form and not wanting to be there, that then can almost become one-sided.

As a Manager, it was my job to make this meeting work, to show the member of staff that it was a two-way process and their opinions did matter. Their input was important. So how did I go about this?

I always made sure that staff had plenty of notice that their appraisal was due. They were given a form to complete and asked to return it to me at least a week before their appraisal. That way I would be able to investigate and feedback at the appraisal.

On the day of the appraisals I made sure my diary was clear, that my secretary took all my calls and I was not to be interrupted. To ensure that this happened I would hold the appraisals in another room.

I would ensure that the desk was clear, a glass of water was available for the member of staff, as sometimes staff (especially new staff) can get quite nervous.

I always prepared for each and every appraisal. I allowed plenty of time for each appraisal and always allowed for an overrun in the event that a member of staff needed more time. Everyone deserved the respect and to be treated as an individual.

I would always start with what they were doing well. Praising them was important. Every step I would ask if they had anything to add, instead of asking at the end of the appraisal.

If I had to discuss ways that they needed to improve I would always get measurable proof. Find a way forward – turning a negative into a positive.

I would ask some open questions – what has been good in the last year / what have not been so successful?

It was important for me to get them talking, and to ensure that I covered everything there was on the form. If there were any blanks on the form (and there were often some) I would go over the question in the appraisal and together we would fill in the blanks.

At the end of the appraisal I would always make sure that I had covered everything. I would ask if they were happy with the appraisal, if there is something that I might have missed out, and how they felt that I supported them as a manager over the past year.

The most important thing is following up after any appraisal. If you said you would do something then make sure you do it. Don’t let the member of staff down, they would have every reason to dread next year’s appraisal. If the member of staff has highlighted something then its over to you – it could be training that they have said they would like to do, or perhaps be considered for promotion, or simply changing their hours.

If you use the appraisals right you can and will get so much more from your team.

A staff appraisal should be a two-way process.

How do you thank you staff at Christmas?


How do you or your Practice thank your staff? Do you tell them on a regular basis or keep it to once a year at Christmas?

In my experience you will get far more from people if they are shown thanks and appreciation and it doesn’t have to cost very much either.

Here is how I used to say “thank you” to my staff.

Daily Basis

  • When I was leaving the surgery of an evening I would always take time to go into Reception, ask if everything was ok before leaving and as I left always say “thank you for all your help today”.
  • If I needed to go to one of the other surgeries to see one of the Doctors or the Surgery Team Leader I would always make a point of showing my face in Reception – I always wanted to be approachable and let the Receptionists know that I was always there for them. Again when I left to go back to my own office I would always thank everyone as I left.
  • At the end of any Team Meetings I would always thank everyone for coming .

One off Basis

  • When someone did something that stood out and was beyond their job description I would speak to the Practice Manager and she was in agreement we would get the Staff Partner to say “thank you” in the form of a letter. This letter could then be put on their CV and used in their next appraisals (when again it could be brought up).  This was not something that I did very often – so when a member of staff did receive a letter it was obvious that they had been praised for their good work. If the incident was appropriate and with the permission of the Receptionist receiving the letter I would use the incident in the next staff training.
  • If a Receptionist was having a baby or getting married I would organise a baby shower and the Receptionists would get together over lunchtime and have a good laugh. This was great for team work as they would organise the lunch, the presents and work together on making sure it was a great shower.
  • If an older Receptionist became a grandmother I would always send them a congratulations card.
  • If a member of staff was off on long-term sick I would always send them a get well card and tell them how much they were being missed.

Yearly Basis

  • My Practice Manage would send each surgery a Christmas card – I would send one to each individual member of staff thanking them for all their hard work throughout the year. To me this was very important to let each member of staff know how much I appreciated their hard work that year.
  • I would also get a personal present for each of the Surgery Team Leaders at Christmas – just a small token but again to thank them for all their efforts over the year, and let’s face it I could not have done my job as well as I did without their support and hard work.
  • The Practice would give the staff a Christmas Party – usually in the form of a Dinner Dance – this really can keep moral going – and everyone was always on a high for a few days after – staff very much appreciated the Practice doing this for them.
  • The Practice would also give the staff gift vouchers every Christmas – again this was extremely kind of the Partners to do this and again the staff always really appreciated this.

So, it does not have to cost a fortune to say “thank you” but it can be worth its weight in gold.

How do you thank you staff?

Does Your Practice have a 999 Policy


Does your Practice have a protocol on calling 999?

What is your Practice policy if a patient telephones the surgery and it is identified that an ambulance is needed?

Why do you need to have such a policy?

You owe it to your staff to have the correct procedures in place. No one likes to get something wrong – and delaying in getting an ambulance to a patient can have dire consequences.

When I was a supervisor managing a team of Receptionists we did deal with calls that were a matter of urgency – and needed an ambulance. If a Doctor (or in the Doctors absence a nurse) was in the building they would deal with the call.

But there were times that a call would come through and there would be no healthcare professional on the premises. The Receptionist had to deal with the emergency call and quickly.

A good receptionist will pick up on the urgency of a call and in a split second know that an ambulance is needed.

But what happens in your Practice?

  1. Does the Doctor/Nurse/Receptionist ask the caller to call 999 and request an ambulance?

or

2.  Does the Doctor/Nurse/Receptionist call the ambulance?

I fought for our practice to have a protocol put in place for such calls. The Doctors at first did not see a need for it.

Until we had this in place and a patient called in an emergency it might be the Doctor that would call an ambulance or  the Doctor might phone out to Reception and ask a Receptionist to call an ambulance or the Doctor might ask the caller to call 999.

If a Receptionist took the call depending on who took the call and she identified that an ambulance needed to be called she might tell the caller she would phone for an ambulance or another Receptionists might advise the caller to phone 999 them self.

But one thing for sure was that there was no procedure whereby everyone was doing the same.

DOES THE DOCTOR/NURSE/RECEPTIONIST ASK THE PATIENT TO CALL 999?

When I brought this up at a Doctors Meeting they were very keen that we as Receptionists ask the caller/patient to call 999. They felt that this would be less pressure on the surgery staff – and they felt that the ambulance control could phone and speak to the caller/patient if needed.

I disagreed – I asked what if the patient was there on their own and we asked them to phone an ambulance and then they collapsed before making the call – we as a Surgery would have thought it was being dealt with and the patient would not have made the call therefore no ambulance being despatched – leaving the patient in danger.

They suggested that if the caller was on their own then we would make the call. If the patient had someone with them then we would ask them to make the call.

Again, I disagreed – this was not fair on the Receptionists – to ascertain if the patient had someone with them at the time of call – this would take up valuable time and that person might be needed to be at the aid of the patient.

DOES THE DOCTOR/NURSE/RECEPTIONIST CALL THE AMBULANCE?

Yes, I say – every single time.

What I did learn from taking such calls is people are often in a panic – if  a caller is calling on behalf of someone else they might not necessarily have all the patients’ information at hand ie medication they might be on. The caller might be a neighbour and might know very little about the patient.

They often will give you details and THEN you ask them to call 999 and they have to give the information all over again. This delays time when the caller can be with the patient – especially if the patient needs assistance.

Or, if the patient is on their own they are often in a panic. Elderly patients have been known when they put the phone done after being asked to call 999 that they don’t “think” it is necessary and the call has not been made. They often do not like causing a fuss.

You might have a mum with a young child that needs the mother to be with them – asking her to phone for an ambulance takes her away from the child for longer.

In my experience I felt that the caller/patient was happier when we at the surgery phoned 999 on their behalf – it gave the caller time to go back to the patient – or the patient to prepare for the ambulance calling.

The Doctors felt that Ambulance control would rather the call come from the patient – so I contacted them on behalf of the practice. I explained what had been discussed at our recent meeting and ambulance control agreed that they would prefer it if the Surgery was to call in the event of an ambulance being needed.

They felt the Surgery would have all the patients’ records that they needed such as

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Telephone number
  • Medical History / Medication
  • Any other relevant information they might require.

Not all of the above might be know to a caller if they are calling on behalf of the patient.

Ambulance control felt that they could get this information quickly from a Doctor or Receptionist, get the ambulance despatch quickly and if they needed to speak to the caller/patient for further information they needed to.

Also, to make a note on the patient records that an ambulance had been called, the date and time the call was made. This could be useful for any of the healthcare professionals when dealing with the patient in the future.

To get this protocol right was important – and for me I had an example of just how this can fail if there is not policy in place

“True Story”

I have a cousin – she and her partner were due to go on holiday the following morning. My cousin’s partner started feeling unwell that afternoon, by tea time he was decidedly a lot worse and seemed to be very unwell – my cousin started to panic as her partner was in a pretty bad state.

She got through to the Surgery, by this time she was really panicking as her partner was drifting in and out and not with it at all.

My cousin spoke to one of the Receptionists – she gave her the details – the Receptionist put her straight through to the Doctor, my cousin went through everything again with the Doctor, the Doctor asked her to phone an ambulance immediately – but what she thought he said was that HE would phone an ambulance for her. She said that her head was all over the place and she was certain that he said he would phone.

She waited over an hour – no ambulance arrived. She phoned the surgery again and it was closed. She was in a fit of panic by this point  – instead of phoning 999 she phoned the out of hours number on the answer machine and had to go through everything with them. She now blames herself that she did not phone 999 instead. The out of hours contacted ambulance control who confirmed that no ambulance had been requested earlier but despatched an ambulance immediately.

The ambulance arrived too late – my cousins partner had died of a heart attack.

 

Had her surgery had a 999 protocol the ambulance would have been called.

Discuss such events at your next Practice Meeting – get everyone following the same procedure.

The importance of being a good Supervisor or Manager?


Managerial effectiveness is a crucial element in the running of any Practice. But being a “good” manager is not just about hitting targets and working for the company – it is all about managing your staff in the most proactive way you can. Leadership is the only way forward. Here are some points that are vital to a Manager to help manage a good and happy team.

I will use the term “Manager” in this blog but this is also for anyone in a supervisory
role – being a Supervisor you are in a responsible role and lead a team and this is just as important as a managerial role.

LEADERSHIP

In every organisation there is a definite need for leadership. Whether it is a Team Leader, Supervisor or Manager they are vital to the practice. You will need to be goal orientated, self-motivated and possess boundless energy and have to learn how to exert influence effectively in all directions – upwards, downwards and sideways. You will need to show strong leadership both to your bosses and the staff.

You will need to earn respect from your staff and your Partners – and that comes with
time. You need to be seen to be fair, treating everyone with respect and not show any signs of favouritism.

Strict neutrality is also necessary in your dealings with staff. It is hard to maintain a strictly unbiased approach if you are particularly friendly with one or more members of staff.

The role of a Manager can sometimes be very lonely.

TEAM BUILDING

Team building is vital for the whole practice.

Communication plays a big part in Team Building. Get to know your team where possible as individuals. Get to know their strengths and weaknesses, their goals and their hopes. These will help when it comes to yearly appraisals. By knowing your staff and their abilities you are able to place them in the job best suited to them. You might have someone who has great people skills – they will be ideal to put on the front desk, and someone who has great computer skills yet not so good on people skills, they would be great at carrying out admin and computer work. By placing these people in these roles make for happier staff – they are doing something they enjoy  rather than just doing a job given to them.

You need all types of staff to have a team. Someone that is has a great telephone manner, someone who has great people skills and someone who has great organisational skills – use them to the best of their ability.

Team Building is such an important part of your job.

MOTIVATING STAFF

Motivating staff is an essential part of any manger’s work. Most staff seeks not only an
interesting job but usually like to feel that what they are doing is worthwhile and that they have job security. They need to be able to respect their boss(es) and have the respect back. Offer staff opportunities – training, learning new skills, and promotion wherever possible.

Staff are more likely to be motivated if they receive recognition and praise when it is deserved. This can be given to individual members of the team or to the team as a whole.

If you are praising an individual do not do it in front of the other members of the team. This can often lead to embarrasment on the member of staff involved and also cause bad feelings amongst others. Call them to your office and give the praise – if the praise is to the whole team give this at a team meeting – and ensure that staff that are not at the meeting receive the praise. You could verbally give the praise followed up by a memo to all concerned.

Staff will work better if the management of the practice is not only consistent by also seen to be fair.

STAFF MEETINGS

Finding time to have staff meetings is never easy. Especially in Practice as many of the
staff are part-time workers and therefore you never having everyone there at the same time.

Some practices have staff meetings in the evenings; some have “breakfast” meetings before their surgery opens. Others have staff meetings during the lunch break. One thing is for sure if you have a big team of receptionists you will never have everyone attend the meeting. Look at the best times that staff can attend. Send out a memo asking them what they would prefer. Try to rotate the meetings every time so everyone gets a fair change of attending the next one.

But the important thing is to keep staff informed if they are unable to attend. For me the best way was to have each and every meeting has minutes taken and copies sent out to all staff – those that were present and those that could not attend also copy in your manager and the staff Partner. Always keep a copy of every meeting on file for future reference.

It is important to give staff plenty of notice when the next meeting is going to take place. A good suggestion is to agree the next date at the meeting you are holding. This way you can add it to the minutes.

If you have a lunchtime meeting a good idea is to provide lunch – perhaps a nice kind rep would be happy to help.

As a Practice you will have to decide if overtime is going to be paid and at what rate or if they can have time in lieu for attending the meeting.

Let all staff have an opportunity of adding items to the agenda. Let them feel that they are part of the meeting.

In my experience most staff are happy to attend meetings if they can see the point of it and a positive outcome with direct action being taken if appropriate.

If you learn to hold successful meetings, you should be guaranteed a good attendance.

STAFF TRAINING

Staff training is vital – it is essential for every Practice to be able to move forward. Well
trained staff are confident staff.

Invest in good training. It does not always have to cost a fortune. There are several options that you can take when it comes to staff training. You can either send individual staff on training courses outside the practice – your local PCT (Primary Care Trust) usually run excellent courses and many of these are free.

You can attend courses and then bring them back to the and train staff.

You can have an outside organisation come into the Practice and train several staff at the same time – this can be some similar to a staff meeting when it can be done during a lunchtime. Again Reps are often able to help in the cost of training.

Ensure that you log all training that staff has been on – keep a training log of their individual training skills in their staff files.

Staff Appraisals

Appraisals are a two-way process. If you need to explain to staff that one of the reasons
why you wish to hold individual appraisals is because you wish to learn from them, how they feel about their particular job and their role in the practice, this should ensure that they begin to feel less apprehensive about the whole process.

For some reason staff always see appraisals as a negative thing. Try to change that.

The appraisal interview should provide a forum for feedback from the employee as well as a chance for the manager to praise past efforts and offer constructive criticism on ways in which improvements can take place. Training needs can be identified and methods of monitoring development can be set up.

It is important that you listen to their views and recommendations and, where possible implement changes that they have suggested. But do not make promises that you will not be able to keep.

And most important

COMMUNICATION

Communication is vital. Staff needs to be kept informed in anything that might involve them. Lack of communication is a good way to start rumours and bad feelings amongst staff. Keep your staff informed of necessary changes within their jobs or within the Practice.

Talk to your staff, feedback when and where possible – staff meetings are good for this as
are memo’s and talking to staff wherever possible.

And remember – there is no “I” in TEAM

                                     

The importance of being a good Supervisor or Manager?


Managerial effectiveness is a crucial element in the running of any Practice. But being a “good” manager is not just about hitting targets and working for the company – it is all about managing your staff in the most proactive way you can. Leadership is the only way forward. Here are some points that are vital to a Manager to help manage a good and happy team.

I will use the term “Manager” in this blog but this is also for anyone in a supervisory
role – being a Supervisor you are in a responsible role and lead a team and this is just as important as a managerial role.

LEADERSHIP

In every organisation there is a definite need for leadership. Whether it is a Team Leader, Supervisor or Manager they are vital to the practice. You will need to be goal orientated, self-motivated and possess boundless energy and have to learn how to exert influence effectively in all directions – upwards, downwards and sideways. You will need to show strong leadership both to your bosses and the staff.

You will need to earn respect from your staff and your Partners – and that comes with
time. You need to be seen to be fair, treating everyone with respect and not show any signs of favouritism.

Strict neutrality is also necessary in your dealings with staff. It is hard to maintain a strictly unbiased approach if you are particularly friendly with one or more members of staff.

The role of a Manager can sometimes be very lonely.

TEAM BUILDING

Team building is vital for the whole practice.

Communication plays a big part in Team Building. Get to know your team where possible as individuals. Get to know their strengths and weaknesses, their goals and their hopes. These will help when it comes to yearly appraisals. By knowing your staff and their bilities you are able to place them in the job best suited to them. You might have someone who has great people skills – they will be ideal to put on the front desk, and someone who has great computer skills yet not so good on people skills, they would be great at carrying out admin and computer work. By placing these people in these roles make for happier staff – they are doing something they enjoy  rather than just doing a job given to them.

You need all types of staff to have a team. Someone that is has a great telephone manner, someone who has great people skills and someone who has great organisational skills – use them to the best of their ability.

Team Building is such a important part of your job.

MOTIVATING STAFF

Motivating staff is an essential part of any manger’s work. Most staff seeks not only an
interesting job but usually like to feel that what they are doing is worthwhile and that they have job security. They need to be able to respect their boss(es) and have the respect back. Offer staff opportunities – training, learning new skills, and promotion wherever possible.

Staff are more likely to be motivated if they receive recognition and praise when it is deserved. This can be given to individual members of the team or to the team as a whole.

If you are praising an individual do not do it in front of the other members of the team. Call them to your office and give the praise – if the praise is to the whole team give this at a team meeting – and ensure that staff that are not at the meeting receive the praise. You could verbally give the praise followed up by a memo to all concerned.

Staff will work better if the management of the practice is not only consistent by also seen to be fair.

STAFF MEETINGS

Finding time to have staff meetings is never easy. Especially in Practice as many of the
staff are part-time workers and therefore you never having everyone there at the same time.

Some practices have staff meetings in the evenings; some have “breakfast” meetings before the surgery opens. Others have staff meetings during the lunch break. One thing is for sure if you have a big team of receptionists you will never have everyone attend the meeting. Look at the best times that staff can attend. Send out a memo asking them what they would prefer. Try to rotate the meetings every time so everyone gets a fair change of attending the next one.

But the important thing is to keep staff informed if they are unable to attend. For me the best way was to have each and every meeting has minutes taken and copies sent out to all staff – those that were present and those that could not attend also copy in your manager and the staff Partner. Always keep a copy of every meeting on file for future reference.

It is important to give staff plenty of notice when the next meeting is going to take place. A good suggestion is to agree the next date at the meeting you are holding. This way you can add it to the minutes.

If you have a lunchtime meeting a good idea is to provide lunch – perhaps a nice kind rep would be happy to help.

As a Practice you will have to decide if overtime is going to be paid and at what rate.

Let all staff have an opportunity of adding items to the agenda.

In my experience most staff are happy to attend meetings if they can see the point of it and a positive outcome with direction action being taken if appropriate.

If you learn to hold successful meetings, you should be guaranteed a good attendance.

STAFF TRAINING

Staff training is vital – it is essential for every Practice to be able to move forward. Well
trained staff are confident staff.

Invest in good training. It does not always have to cost a fortune. There are several options that you can take when it comes to staff training. You can either send individual staff on training courses outside the practice – your local PCT (Primary Care Trust) usually run excellent courses and many of these are free.

You can attend courses and then bring them back to the and train staff.

You can have an outside organisation come into the Practice and train several staff at the same time – this can be some similar to a staff meeting when it can be done during a lunchtime. Again Reps are often able to help in the cost of training.

Ensure that you log all training that staff has been on – keep a training log of their individual training skills in their staff files.

Staff Appraisals

Appraisals are a two-way process. If you need to explain to staff that one of the reasons
why you wish to hold individual appraisals is because you wish to learn from them, how they feel about their particular job and their role in the practice, this should ensure that they begin to feel less apprehensive about the whole process.

For some reason staff always see appraisals as a negative thing. Try to change that.

The appraisal interview should provide a forum for feedback from the employee as well as a chance for the manager to praise past efforts and offer constructive criticism on ways in which improvements can take place. Training needs can be identified and methods of monitoring development can be set up.

It is important that you listen to their views and recommendations and, where possible implement changes that they have suggested. But do not make promises that you will not be able to keep.

And most important

COMMUNICATION

Communication is vital. Staff needs to be kept informed in anything that might involve them. Lack of communication is a good way to start rumours and bad feelings amongst staff. Keep your staff informed of necessary changes within their jobs or within the Practice.

Talk to your staff, feedback when and where possible – staff meetings are good for this as
are memo’s and talking to staff wherever possible.

And remember – there is no “I” in TEAM

                                     

Does Your Practice have a 999 Policy


Does your Practice have a protocol on calling 999?

What is your Practice policy if a patient telephones the surgery and it is identified that an ambulance is needed?

Why do you need to have such a policy?

You owe it to your staff to have the correct procedures in place. No one likes to get something wrong – and delaying in getting an ambulance to a patient can have dire consequences.

When I was a supervisor managing a team of Receptionists we did deal with calls that were a matter of urgency – and needed an ambulance. If a Doctor (or in the Doctors absence a nurse) was in the building they would deal with the call.

But there were times that a call would come through and there would be no healthcare professional on the premises. The Receptionist had to deal with the emergency call and quickly.

A good receptionist will pick up on the urgency of a call and in a split second know that an ambulance is needed.

But what happens in your Practice?

  1. Does the Doctor/Nurse/Receptionist ask the caller to call 999 and request an ambulance?

or

2.  Does the Doctor/Nurse/Receptionist call the ambulance?

I fought for our practice to have a protocol put in place for such calls. The Doctors at first did not see a need for it.

Until we had this in place and a patient called in an emergency it might be the Doctor that would call an ambulance or  the Doctor might phone out to Reception and ask a Receptionist to call an ambulance or the Doctor might ask the caller to call 999.

If a Receptionist took the call depending on who took the call and she identified that an ambulance needed to be called she might tell the caller she would phone for an ambulance or another Receptionists might advise the caller to phone 999 them self.

But one thing for sure was that there was no procedure whereby everyone was doing the same.

DOES THE DOCTOR/NURSE/RECEPTIONIST ASK THE PATIENT TO CALL 999?

When I brought this up at a Doctors Meeting they were very keen that we as Receptionists ask the caller/patient to call 999. They felt that this would be less pressure on the surgery staff – and they felt that the ambulance control could phone and speak to the caller/patient if needed.

I disagreed – I asked what if the patient was there on their own and we asked them to phone an ambulance and then they collapsed before making the call – we as a Surgery would have thought it was being dealt with and the patient would not have made the call therefore no ambulance being despatched – leaving the patient in danger.

They suggested that if the caller was on their own then we would make the call. If the patient had someone with them then we would ask them to make the call.

Again, I disagreed – this was not fair on the Receptionists – to ascertain if the patient had someone with them at the time of call – this would take up valuable time and that person might be needed to be at the aid of the patient.

DOES THE DOCTOR/NURSE/RECEPTIONIST CALL THE AMBULANCE?

Yes, I say – every single time.

What I did learn from taking such calls is people are often in a panic – if  a caller is calling on behalf of someone else they might not necessarily have all the patients’ information at hand ie medication they might be on. The caller might be a neighbour and might know very little about the patient.

They often will give you details and THEN you ask them to call 999 and they have to give the information all over again. This delays time when the caller can be with the patient – especially if the patient needs assistance.

Or, if the patient is on their own they are often in a panic. Elderly patients have been known when they put the phone done after being asked to call 999 that they don’t “think” it is necessary and the call has not been made. They often do not like causing a fuss.

You might have a mum with a young child that needs the mother to be with them – asking her to phone for an ambulance takes her away from the child for longer.

In my experience I felt that the caller/patient was happier when we at the surgery phoned 999 on their behalf – it gave the caller time to go back to the patient – or the patient to prepare for the ambulance calling.

The Doctors felt that Ambulance control would rather the call come from the patient – so I contacted them on behalf of the practice. I explained what had been discussed at our recent meeting and ambulance control agreed that they would prefer it if the Surgery was to call in the event of an ambulance being needed.

They felt the Surgery would have all the patients’ records that they needed such as

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Telephone number
  • Medical History / Medication
  • Any other relevant information they might require.

Not all of the above might be know to a caller if they are calling on behalf of the patient.

Ambulance control felt that they could get this information quickly from a Doctor or Receptionist, get the ambulance despatch quickly and if they needed to speak to the caller/patient for further information they needed to.

Also, to make a note on the patient records that an ambulance had been called, the date and time the call was made. This could be useful for any of the healthcare professionals when dealing with the patient in the future.

To get this protocol right was important – and for me I had an example of just how this can fail if there is not policy in place

“True Story”

I have a cousin – she and her partner were due to go on holiday the following morning. My cousin’s partner started feeling unwell that afternoon, by tea time he was decidedly a lot worse and seemed to be very unwell – my cousin started to panic as her partner was in a pretty bad state.

She got through to the Surgery, by this time she was really panicking as her partner was drifting in and out and not with it at all.

My cousin spoke to one of the Receptionists – she gave her the details – the Receptionist put her straight through to the Doctor, my cousin went through everything again with the Doctor, the Doctor asked her to phone an ambulance immediately – but what she thought he said was that HE would phone an ambulance for her. She said that her head was all over the place and she was certain that he said he would phone.

She waited over an hour – no ambulance arrived. She phoned the surgery again and it was closed. She was in a fit of panic by this point  – instead of phoning 999 she phoned the out of hours number on the answer machine and had to go through everything with them. She now blames herself that she did not phone 999 instead. The out of hours contacted ambulance control who confirmed that no ambulance had been requested earlier but despatched an ambulance immediately.

The ambulance arrived too late – my cousins partner had died of a heart attack.

 

Had her surgery had a 999 protocol the ambulance would have been called.

Discuss such events at your next Practice Meeting – get everyone following the same procedure.