Friday 17 June 2022

Waiting at the surgery

is something that irritates me. Yesterday was infuriating.

The GP will give me a "telehealth" appointment if she can but there was a form that needed to be filled in so I dutifully made an appointment. Of course that had to be made via the internet these days with something called "HotDoc". Gone are the days when you phoned and asked to see someone. If you have internet access you are expected to use it. 

And yes, I dutifully responded to the reminder the day before. I even said "Yes" via a text message. (I don't do text messages in the normal way - my paws are too clumsy for that.)

And then I pedalled the twenty or so minutes to the surgery and arrived at about six minutes before the appointment time even though I was certain the doctor would be running late. Yes of course she was running late.

I checked in at the desk as required. Now please note that. I checked in at the desk. I told the new person sitting there my name, my telephone number, my address, my date of birth, the doctor I was expecting to see. I told her all of that.

I was told to go and sit down and wait. It would not be long.  I waited. Someone came out of the doctor's room about ten minutes later. Someone went in. I waited. 

There was nobody else in the waiting room - it being around lunch time on a rather dreary sort of day. I looked at the clock. I had somewhere else to be too. 

The person who had gone in came out. I waited. I waited some more. The other receptionist wandered over and asked if I was waiting to see a doctor. I told her who I was waiting to see. She looked a bit puzzled. I waited some more.

At forty eight minutes after the appointed time - almost an hour after I had checked in at the desk - the receptionist who had checked me in strolled over and asked, "Did you check in at the desk?"

"Yes, you checked me in," I told her. She clearly did not believe this.  

"You aren't on the list," she told me.

"I gave you my name and...." I reeled off the other information she had asked for and in the order she had asked for it. She looked blankly at me and strolled back to the desk. She made a phone call - clearly asking the doctor whether she would see me.

The doctor looked out, looked at me in a puzzled sort of way and called me in. Nothing was said but I was feeling so thoroughly irritated by this I actually said,

"I was not late and I know you can't help running late sometimes. There was a problem at the desk."

The doctor sighed. "Sit down Cat. Let's get this form dealt with - do you have to be anywhere?"

"I have another meeting starting about now."

There was another sigh but we raced through the form and I left. I was unlocking the trike when there was a call from the receptionist who had checked me in. I had to go back right then. I had to put my paw print on something else as well. She could have told me about this before I went in to see the doctor but nothing was said.

Of course there was someone else ahead of me by the time I reached the desk. The receptionist was being very short with an elderly man whose first language is definitely not English. He was trying very hard to be polite but clearly did not understand what she was saying. I intervened and rephrased her question so he did understand. She glared at me. He smiled.

I managed to hold my tongue still but it was an effort. Later in the afternoon I spoke to Middle Cat and told her what had happened. She growled, "Her! She's hopeless!"

Middle Cat never has telehealth appointments. The doctor always needs to see her but the receptionist in question had, on the last occasion, insisted it had to be a telehealth appointment. Middle Cat, who knows a great deal more about medicine than anyone there apart from the doctors, stood there and quoted the legislation which requires the doctor to actually see her. Behind the receptionist the practice manager apparently silently raised both thumbs in approval. Middle Cat told me, "Let the practice manager know what happened Cat. It's the only way she can find out what's going on."

I thought about it - and spent more time working out a polite way of putting in a miaou of complaint.  I wrote it and emailed it off - not so much for me but for the doctor who does not need the added pressure of an incompetent receptionist and an old man for whom English is a second language.



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