Computer says no! – A tale of unhelpful receptionists
On phone 6 by YouthNet photography, on Flickr
I take an anti depressant called Citalopram. Earlier this year I moved to a new city. I was starting a new job and had moved in with strangers in a new area. I didn’t know the area at all. I soon I realised I needed some more of my pills. In retrospect, I should have planned to get them earlier but I didn’t realise it would be so difficult!
I used NHS Choices website to find my nearest surgery. I went in and explained that I needed a new prescription very soon. They told me I would need to register with the surgery - which was fine - except that the process can take longer than a week, waiting for appointments and bringing in proof of address (something I didn’t yet have). I got a bit panicky and they told me that, in an emergency, I should visit the walk in centre.
First I needed to find it. I didn’t have internet at home yet so I found a cafe with wifi and searched online. It took me an hour or so to walk there. The notice said the wait could be up to four hours. However, a quick chat with the receptionist told me that the walk in centre doesn’t deal with controlled medication so I had no chance of getting a prescription there. So why did the first receptionist tell me to go there? Grrr!
What next? I called the practice I’d been with up north, explained the situation and asked if they could fax through a prescription to a pharmacy. They said I should call back when I found one so they could speak to the pharmacist.
I’ve always lived in small cities in the past, where there was an obvious city centre. East London, where I was living now, was full of bars, curry houses and places selling handbags and shoes - but where was the Boots, or the supermarket? Did I have to go into the very centre for these things? Back to my wifi cafe for a check on the Boots store locator. On arrival it turned out to be very small and very busy. I watched the pharmacist and assistants for a while from what might have been a queue but was more of a crowd - and realised that there was no way I was going to be able to get enough time to explain the situation, call up the surgery up north, find a fax machine, and wait for it to come through. I needed a smaller, more personal pharmacy.
Luckily, just down the road, I found one called ‘Old Maid’s Pharmacy’ (genuinely!) - a little room with various hand labelled perfume bottles all over the shelves, but with the green cross outside that shows they probably have what I need in the back somewhere! The pharmacist seem a bit confused as I launched into my story again but, eventually say that they need the actual green slip from the doctor to be able to give me the pills. However, after I begged, they said that if they have the prescription faxed through first they could give me a few to keep me going until I could get the real copy.
We’re finally getting somewhere. I call the northern practice back up but now it’s another woman on the front desk. I explain the situation (again!) and she says I need to talk to the prescriptions department. She puts me through to ‘prescriptions’, which turns out to be an answerphone - it’s only open from 10 until 12. She must have known that! At this point I may have screamed. I certainly kicked the wall pretty hard.
In the end, after a frustrated, tired and tearful day, I called my mum. She suggested that I try and speak to my doctor up north directly. Next morning I called up and asked for my old doctor to call me back. She did that lunchtime, was warm, friendly and understanding and said they would get a prescription sent out first class the next day. I probably should have done that straight away but, perhaps mistakenly, I expected the receptionists at the surgeries and centres I called and visited to actually try and help rather than just trying to get me off the phone.
Remember, for support TheSite.org can help: