Trying to make an appointment can be a hurdle in itself and you're not even at the surgery yet. One bad experience can be really off-putting so we've come up with this list of issues that can get in the way.
Take a look and let us know if you can think of any more. We'd also like to hear your suggestions for dealing with these issues and how to make that call a little less daunting.
Some surgeries have a low number of male / female GPs, harder to get an appointment with the preferred gender if only one and they're away etc.
Receptionists asking about the reason to see a doctor - this can be a really personal question, it can be embarrassing and awkward
Unfriendly receptionists - Sometimes receptionists can be a little unfriendly and you can end up agreeing to a time or day you're not happy with or not making an appointment at all
Booking an appointment - long waiting times are off-putting and even getting an appointment can be quite a difficult process
Seeing different GPs at every visit (including temporary doctors) - having different doctors means no one really knows everything about your situation or you may not have built up trust with the doctor - it can be hard always having to re-explain things
Who do you need an appointment with? Is it the doctor or the nurse that you need and how do you know?
The aim of this discussion will be to create an information article for Step Finder that can be linked to across TheSite.org and suggested to people who might be struggling to make an appointment
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Thread: Making appointments
13-09-2011 12:57 PM #1
23-09-2011 03:13 PM #2
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- Jun 2011
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I think that complicated appointments systems and managing to see the same GP about an ongoing problem at each visit are the main barriers I've encountered. I'?s like you need to be psychic and know six weeks in advance that you need to book an appointment, otherwise you end up ringing up every morning at 08:30, which when you feel rubbish, is a real hassle when it doesn't guarantee an appointment, let alone with your doctor of choice. I have also had locum doctor problems and can empathise with many of the other barriers suggested above.
Re solutions? Well that's a hard call as it seems to me that each GP surgery offers different things so I think advice about solutions is a real minefield. However I think the major key point is to be prepared before you make that call.
Be aware what you could be offered, and work out what your response to that option will be, in which case you need to think about what the various options you are likely to be offered actually are, and which would be the most amenable to you or how you could work around other options. I have definitely found that if you know the ins and outs of the surgery and understand how it works, you can more easily cut through the receptionist red tape. At my present surgery for example, you can request a telephone appointment with a doctor without giving the receptionist any information at all, apart from saying that you want to speak to a doctor and your problem is urgent. If that doctor is not available, the receptionist will tell you who is and you can ask that a specific doctor from those available call you back and, if necessary, arrange a face to face appointment with them.
Also, receptionists are bound by the same confidentiality as doctors in any case, so whilst taken at face value, they might not seem the most helpful, they want to ensure that the most urgent patients are dealt with first and present this information to the doctor. Think of it like when you go to A&E: everyone is initially checked out by the triage nurse, who decides their appropriate priority for them being seen by a doctor, therefore some folk are dealt with immediately, whereas others have to wait. Granted, receptionists aren't normally trained medical professionals, but they will pass the information on to the doctor who makes the final judgement call. However, in all cases, you have to be clear about your symptoms so you get the right priority grading. So think about this clearly before ringing in.
Re the doctor or nurse dilemma, as soon as you know you are going to need an appointment to see someone, ring the surgery, preferably outside peak times (so usually after 10:30). The receptionists will have more time and will be able to discuss things with you, and then advise you on the best course of action for making an appointment. Also, some surgery websites offer information on this, or the surger'ys booklet you get on joining the practice, so those might be worth checking out.
I think with regard to many of the points above, it's worth bearing in mind that if you're not happy with what's on offer at your present surgery, you can switch surgeries, no questions asked. But before you switch, do your homework: visit each practice and have a word with the receptionist to source an information pack. You can then find out how many male/female doctors there are, opening hours, appointment booking procedures, whether they're a training practice, what online services they offer, and much more. If you want to know something that's not mentioned, ask; at least that way you'll find out how helpful the receptionists are!