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The waiting game

GPs asked to man reception desk

By Georgie Hobbs

GP practices with poor access satisfaction scores are to be given compulsory ‘cultural awareness' training and asked to work on reception, Pulse has learnt.

Tower Hamlets PCT – which achieved one of the lowest satisfaction scores in the country in last year's Patient Experience Survey – is to spend up to £150,000 on the project, thought to be the first of its kind.

The move is the latest in a series of solutions devised by PCTs seeking creative answers to local access problems.

Reception staff, nurses and at least one GP from all 36 practices in the area will be given two days training, with actors taking them through a series of ‘mirroring experience' role-plays to help them empathise with patients.

GPs will also be asked to man reception for a short period of time - although the PCT's Access Redesign Manager David Groom admitted ‘I'm not sure if that's ever going to happen.'

‘A lot of GPs are tucked away in their consulting rooms seeing patients and don't necessarily live the experiences the receptionists have got,' he said.

‘We want to change the culture from that image of Rorke's Drift, ‘they shall not pass', to something that you might get in John Lewis or Marks and Spencers.'

But Dr Sella Shanmugadasan, chair of Tower Hamlets LMC, said the LMC had not been consulted on the training.

‘PCTs are under tremendous pressure to demonstrate they're doing something, so that the MORI poll in January will show some improvement,' he said.

‘But people can't just do intensive things for a few months and then forget.'


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