Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

If You're Hoping to Get a Good Reception Don't Come to My Local Doctor's Surgery

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

If You're Hoping to Get a Good Reception Don't Come to My Local Doctor's Surgery

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Weir

I'M SITTING in the reception of my south London doctor's surgery with a wheelie suitcase having just arrived home after a trip to Milan fashion week and LUCKILY! I'm just in time to collect a new urine sample pot for my daughter, before surgery closes. Talk about a holiday present!

I don't go inside the actual waiting room because although my exterior conveys a vibey, deeply relaxed disposition, I'm seriously uptight about germs and am of the firm belief that if I spend more than a minute in a poorly ventilated, overheated holding pen with 10 per cent timewasters and 90 per cent sick people, I'm going to get ill.

So I'm loitering in the buggy zone, by the window, recalling the time when I'd bring a bottle of Limoncello back from Milan instead of a piss pot; just waiting, watching, and wondering how the clerical staff here are going to find the time to screen patients as part of the new "care navigators" scheme devised by the NHS. In a bid to reduce avoidable appointments and free up doctors' time, clerical staff will now be able to make the call as to whether you get to see a doctor, or a physio, for example, instead.

Surgery receptionists are remarkably busy and ludicrously mean in my experience I mean, comically so, at times. They are curt, unforgiving and truculent and have, moreover, ultimate clout, which they wield like medical magnates. This new initiative will hand even more power to the front desk.

I've been at the mercy of many a savage receptionist. There's the one at this surgery who behaves as though she discovered penicillin and invented "please hold", and she once made me cry when I had a temperature of 39 degrees I was basically dead.

The new "care navigator" scheme is being trialled in London. And I don't imagine the receptionists are tripping over themselves to add to their workload any more than I want to speak to someone not medically qualified. …

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