"Bad GP registration process"

About: NHS Lothian

(as the patient),

I am looking to register with my local GP practice in Brunton as I have recently moved to the area. I work full time in a high pressure job so thought I could download the registration forms from the website and complete them at the weekend before taking time off work to attend the surgery and hand them in,

On checking the website I came across the most bizarre process,

Step 1: forms are not availabe from the website you have to go in, in person to pick up the bit of paper from reception... but only on a Tuesday...

"Registration forms are available from reception on a Tuesday. "

and even then its only if you're lucky you will actually get a registration form:

"Due to the nature of the building we are limited to the number of new patients we can register weekly. We can only apologise in advance if, when you arrive there are no registration forms left and you are advised to return the following Tuesday. "

If you are fortunate enough to turn up on a day when there are sufficient forms then you are allowed to take them away and complete them... but.... you still have one more hurdle- you must return the form, in person, only in the afternoon, for some of the week, and not after 4pm...

"You must return your forms personally and allow us the time to check whether they have been correctly completed. If convenient for you, the ideal time to return these forms would be Tuesday - Thursday between 1300 and 1600 hours. Regretfully we cannot accept any registration forms after 1600 hours. "

Now this is a fairly minor gripe but it really illustrates poor process and lack of understanding of systems from a patient perspective and, if you'd look at it properly, causes problems for the surgery.

A really simple improvement- allow people to download registration forms from their website and complete them before attending to register. Wastes less of your time, less of my time (and means I don't need to keep taking time off work for an indefinite number of Tuesdays on the off chance that it might be my lucky day for registration forms!

John Seddon has written extensively about poor system design in the public sector- many times identifying that processes set up to 'manage demand' actually lead to more activity in the system as you have to manage 'failure demand' (e. g. people like me turning up on Tuesdays wasting your time as there are no forms left; phoning to complain about having no registration forms; turning up at 4. 01pm and annoying your reception staff because we want to hand in forms outwith the stated hours etc. ) This is really really poor system design that assumes I have limitless time to hang about waiting for forms/handing in forms/ popping into the surgery when I have to work f/t in a high pressure job (where, incidentally if me and my team tried to put in place rules like this we would find ourselves swiftly unemployed..)

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Response from Customer Relations and Feedback Team, NHS Lothian

I am sorry for the delay in replying.

GPs are independent contractors and as such you should complaint to the GP surgery in the first instance. If you would prefer not to complaint directly to the GP surgery the Customer Relations and Feedback Team can act as "honest broker" on your behalf.

If you would like to contact the Customer Relations and Feedback Team please write to Waverley Gate, 2-4 Waterloo Place, Edinburgh, EH1 3EG, email craft@nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk or telephone 0131 536 3370.

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