"GP Receptionists attitude re booking appointments"

About: NHS Southwark CCG

(as the patient),

The biggest problem at my local group Doctors practice as I see it, is an almost default reaction on trying to get an appointment is the next available is many days later, commenting that the offered appointment to be too far away is generally a curt answer: "Well that's how it is!" Receptionists seem to delight in whipping up an argument before suddenly finding a better slot. I call this: the dance of the appointments. One wonders if they get any training at all.

I have been fighting this crap for years, I recently sat in on 1st 15 mins of Surgery staff training, (Unbelievably the surgery closes for 4hrs every 3rd Thursday for this)

To speed-up the system and avoid the patient getting angry I suggested the following: -

Implement the simple lesson below; on how to handle an angry frustrated customer, This is all about, not WHAT is said but HOW it’s said and the tone of voice employed.

It is human nature to become defensive in awkward situations but a sharp dismissive tone should never be used The receptionist should be thinking “ I must stay calm, polite and get a speedy result so that the patient thinks “Your team are angels who really care! ”

Like all other doctors’ practices, the reception is the shop window of the practice and the image should be of a friendly efficient service. The un well patient is not interested in the internal workings of the practice. They just want to see a doctor or get a prescription asap.

Allow the patients’ initial moans, groans and rage to continue for a short time before saying “Mrs/Mr Blogs, I’m really sorry you’re upset, I’ll check what we can do to help” Never snap “that’s how it is” or keep interrupting or repeating the same thing over and over again. How the patient is handled from this point on, crucially, makes all the difference between a happy customer or an almighty row.

At the meeting I made some deliberately testing statements, not aimed at criticizing but just offering friendly comments from a user’s experience. However unfortunately everyone was immediately defensive and it soon became obvious that I was flogging a dead horse. The responses to my statements were delivered with quite surprising aggression and one was utterly unbelievable and left me speechless. The 1st instance was when, having submitted my suggestions as a patient on how best to deal with them, I was told aggressively, by one of your staff “I understand customer care as I have studied it” clearly not that well!

Their main belief that they provide an almost perfect service is based on the electronic satisfaction gizmo on the counter, because the approval rate was 90 odd %, forgetting that as a nation mostly we don't complain or make a fuss.

Well as Peckhams Victor Meldrew does, I ain't going away, I have reams of evidence, if only I can get help.

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