BEING a GP receptionist can be really rewarding, but also incredibly demanding, dealing with frustrated patients.
Now, an anonymous worker has lifted the lid on what working at a large practice in Cheshire is really like.
She revealed what her most challenging days at work look like and how patients can sometimes make things worse.
Speaking to The Sun, she says one of the highlights of her job is that you get to build a rapport with people.
“You get to know the patients, the ones who are nice and the ones who aren’t,” she says.
“We get a lot of stick over the phone and over the desk, but you still do what you can for them.”
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Working at a surgery you get to meet a wide variety of people, but sometimes, when patients don’t get what they want, they can turn nasty.
“There was one occasion where a man was unable to get his prescription, and because of that, he decided to throw a bin over the desk at us.
“He also tried to pull the check-in screen off the wall,” she remembers.
“There have been other occasions when people have defecated and put it on the reception desk.
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“It can be a scary job and quite often the police have been called.”
Shockingly, when patients do get violent, it’s very rare that anyone steps in to help.
“I don’t think patients have ever stepped in to help us or defend us.
“There was one shift where a man told a pregnant colleague that he would make her watch him slit his wrists.
“It’s hard with those situations as you know these people are struggling with mental health issues.
“Sometimes it can get a bit much,” she says.
Alongside dealing with the rare incidents when members of the public are abusive, they also care for some of the most vulnerable people in society.
She explains: “I’m a sucker for old people. I’ve had an elderly lady call up before, just sobbing down the phone.
“Her husband had died and she just didn’t know what to do.
“My colleague had to take over and that was one situation that really just got to me.”
But that’s not the only time when her heart strings have been tugged at.
Another woman called up and was absolutely devastated when relaying her symptoms and had been inconsolable.
“She had found a lump somewhere and had just been sobbing her heart out.
“A lot of the time you go home worrying about patients.
“We have patients with mental health problems and in most cases, the ones that say they’re ok, usually aren’t.”
We really do go out of our way to help and assist people
While incidents like this are commonplace in GP practices, the receptionist says some of her worst days have seen the whole reception team in floods of tears.
“For us the pandemic meant some awful days at work,” she says.
“At first it was scary as it was a shut door policy and some people just didn’t understand that and would still try and barge in.
“It’s just one of those jobs, there’s been times when everyone in the room cries.
“Being there during Covid, I’d need more than two hands to count the amount of times we all ended up in tears,” she says.
It’s understandable that staff felt helpless due to the situation, she says, as many were working long hours and were forced to swap shifts in order to avoid spreading the virus.
And it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the job, these issues can still affect you.
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“If you didn’t care about people you wouldn’t fit in there,” she adds.
“We really do go out of our way to help and assist people.”
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