A couple of days ago I rang my doc's surgery to make an appointment for a blood test. Having had 2 heart attacks already, I take these tests seriously and have them every 6 months.
I'd left it a bit late this time as I leave for America in 2 weeks and so the receptionist had to struggle to get me a date for the test and also for the follow up at the 'heart clinic' where my results would be given and my medication discussed.
But she was extremely helpful and although she kept saying she'd get the sack for doing it, she got me dates for both visits within the week. Yet again I put down the phone thinking how lucky I was to be registered at such a well run and friendly surgery.
Today I went for my blood test and when I presented myself at the receptionist's window, I noted that the lady was on happy pills and it was Ian this and Ian that and I felt like I was talking with my best friend in the world........ever !!! While I was deciding what had been added to her morning coffee (and if it was on the NHS ?), I was given an NHS questionaire about all aspects of the surgery and asked to fill it in - and was urged to give an 'excellent' mark when answering the questions relating to the receptionists !
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh so it WASN'T down to the coffee after all. Now I knew why she had a smile like a US pageant contestant !
The irony was that she didn't need to be like this today as I was quite happy to tick the excellent box anyway. I've been to a few other surgeries over the years with friends and relatives and those visits have made me really appreciate mine. I get in when I want and I see the doctor I want. I rarely have to wait more than 5 minutes to see the doctor and often go in as soon as I arrive. If I ring in the morning and it's not about an issue requiring an actual visit, I can have the doctor ring me at home which saves us both time and effort. The surgery itself is bright, clean and friendly and today I noticed there was a flat screen tv up in a corner to keep us entertained on those rare occasions when we do have to wait a bit longer.
So I ticked the 'very good' or 'excellent' boxes for most of my answers and I got a few general points off my chest at the end when they foolishly gave me the space to add what I wanted. I wrote nothing about my surgery but plenty about the NHS in general.
Doctor's receptionists have a bad press and I'm sure some deserve it. Any job where you deal face to face with the general public can't be easy although you'd think receptionists have it fairly stress free as they just make appointments and do a bit of paperwork. In this day and age it baffles me why medical details are STILL on cards and bits of paper but at least that's changing.
When most things are computerised, their jobs should be easier and they can put more effort into their people skills.
I also think we see them as barriers between ourselves and the doctors but like traffic wardens, they have to be there or chaos would reign. In the short time I was there this morning, it was like rush hour at a train station. Patients coming and going, others moving about filling in their questionaires, doctors flitting from their rooms to the reception area and back and trying not to be spotted by anyone hoping to 'just have a quick word'. It was crazy. Yet during all this, the receptionists were staffing the window area giving out welcome smiles and raised 'can I help you' eyebrows to all who approached them.
It goes a long way....questionaire or not.