Health and Lifestyle for the over 50s

Patients May Be Put Off Seeing Their Doctor By The Receptionist

Posted by The Best of Health
Categories: Health and Wellbeing /


A new study by Cancer Research UK has found that four in ten people dislike discussing their symptoms with the doctor’s receptionist and, as a result, may be put off visiting the surgery.

Why is the receptionist so important?

The doctor’s receptionist is the first point of contact and they perform a difficult but vital role. It is their job to decide which patients get to see the GP and how urgently. Doctors understand that their patients would prefer to speak to them directly but this is not always possible. The receptionist needs to ensure that the practice runs smoothly and do their best to help patients see the doctor at a suitable time. The job of the receptionist is made harder by the ever increasing patient numbers registered with each practice. Many do a wonderful job under difficult circumstances.

What did the study find out?

Almost 2,000 adults were questioned and the findings revealed that the top three barriers to seeing a GP were as follows:

  • 41.8% cited the difficulty of getting an appointment with a particular doctor
  • 41.5% said there was a problem getting an appointment at a convenient time
  • 39.5% said that they didn’t like talking to the GP’s receptionist about their symptoms

Lead researcher Dr Josie Moffat urged patients not to be put off and to seek help rather than suffer in silence. She said:

“If you find it hard, ask a friend or relative to make an appointment for you. Or go online. Lots of GP surgeries now take online bookings.”


It is especially important to make an appointment if you have worrying symptoms such as any of the following:

  • bleeding
  • unexplained lumps or swellings
  • a persistent cough
  • a change in bowel habits

It’s vitally important that you don’t feel that you are making a fuss or that your condition is sensitive or embarrassing. The receptionist should be sensitive to your needs and the government is funding training in this area. A total of £45 million is being made available through the General Practice Forward View Fund.

Dr Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs said: “With GPs making more patient consultations than ever before – 60 million more a year compared to five years ago – GP receptionists ensure the smooth running of the practice and do their best to help patients see a particular GP at a suitable time for them.

She went on to say: ” However it is important to remember that they are not healthcare professionals, and are not in a position to make decisions about our patients’ health.”

What is your experience of your doctor’s receptionist and the service you receive from your GP’s practice in general?


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Posted by The Best of Health

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