The unsung heroines of primary care

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By Industry Insider

I eschewed my normal habit of reaching for the nearest copy of Hello whilst waiting to see Dr X and did some people watching (pictures of Robbie Williams’ LA nuptials could wait until the next surgery I was visiting that day). Not any people mind you, receptionists specifically, and Alison was the one under my watchful glare for around fifteen minutes or so.

The GP receptionist – the bête noire of many a medical representative over many years. Rightly or wrongly they have had a tainted reputation amongst our profession whether we are experienced or new. Indeed, I can vividly recall a conversation with a recruitment consultant many years ago trying to dissuade me from a move to medical sales and “hanging around wind swept hospital corridors and dealing with white coat clad dragon receptionists” ! I’m sure we all can identify some of those, but as I watched Alison go about her duties I mentally went through the many practices I visit regularly and came to the conclusion that there were some very nice front of house staff and very few of the aforementioned obstructive ‘gate-keepers’. On further refection I realised that in a typical working week you could spend nearly as much time interacting with them as you do with the doctors and nurses, so you want to get these relationships right too. Even the dwindling supply of pens and pads will soon become a thing of the past and we will have to make up for this loss with a spring in our step and a sunny demeanour!

So back to Alison and a brief snapshot of 10 minutes or so of a typical Monday morning’s work in a very busy 4-partner practice. In addition to booking in the scheduled appointments, she took numerous phone calls regarding future appointments, test results, spoke to the practice nurse re another phone call, got some repeat prescriptions signed by one of the GPs and also signed on two young Polish mothers with their offspring to the surgery list, patients whose English was at best rudimentary. She did all these varied tasks with great aplomb and a smile and also proved the maxim that women can multi-task to be accurate!

There are many Alisons throughout the NHS and I urge you to do as I did and watch them for a few minutes rather than read about Wayne Rooney’s extra marital activities in a red top. Be nice to them, they have a job to do and are often the unsung heroines of primary care. Oh, and I nearly forgot – Alison also got me to see Dr X… quickly!!!