Exclusive A GP practice is now trialling a ‘meet and greet’ reception, having stopped its regular face-to-face offering following abuse from patients.
Oakham Medical Practice in Rutland is trying out a ‘meet and greet’ reception for patients with booked appointments, where they will be shown how to check in themselves.
Reception staff are also offering a demonstration of online services and leaflets with information.
The practice stopped offering a face-to-face reception in May after staff suffered ‘excessive verbal abuse and physical intimidation’ from patients.
GP partner at the practice Dr Adam Crowther told Pulse: ‘Rather than a desk-based receptionist, we are going to be trialling a “meet and greet” for people with booked appointments to be shown how to navigate checking in, and for those other queries a demonstration of online services if needed and leaflets with information.’
The closure of face-to-face appointment booking has meant more receptionists are available to answer telephones and book appointments, he said.
Dr Crowther explained: ‘I think part of the issue is that having a unified approach to booking appointments gives patients a fair share of availability rather than coming down and pressuring reception.’
He added: ‘Historically we had issues which are perhaps not unique to ourselves in that those who shout loudest when in front of somebody tended to get more, which at the moment is very difficult to justify.’
The system works as the practice does not have any patients living independently without access to telephone or email, and ‘lots of patients use the non-urgent online consult tool which can be effectively triaged’.
Dr Crowther said: ‘Our care home residents usually have an advocate who completes any actions for them, and our more vulnerable patients usually would have had an advocate booking appointments and this no doubt will continue. Our patients of no fixed abode and from travelling families all have mobiles, so this is how we generally contact them anyway and vice versa.’
He added that the only caveat is patients using our minor injuries service as ‘they can walk in and do not need to be registered patients’.
He said: ‘This service is run from the adjacent hospital minor injuries department, however with a separate joined memorial hospital reception and waiting area.’
Since the practice shut its face-to-face reception, Dr Crowther said things ‘have generally improved and patients have been very supportive for the most part’.
He added: ‘Since the pandemic, novel, efficient ways of working are a big change for patients but entirely necessary to preserve services in general.
‘I only wish that the Government and NHS England would have the honest conversation and support these changes instead of pretending that we can all go back to normal pre-pandemic service again.’
Almost one in three GPs and practice staff have been physically abused at work by patients, according to the shocking results of a recent survey.
Rising levels of abuse against GPs and staff
Over the summer last year, GP practices were targeted with hoax bomb threats and receptionists were attacked with blood-soaked tissues.
Later in the month, a man was charged with assault after attacking four staff members at a GP practice in Manchester.
And a Staffordshire GP surgery was forced to close for two days due to staff receiving verbal patient abuse.
Rising levels of abuse against GP practice and pharmacy staff has prompted one ICS to launch a campaign urging patients to consider what would happen if the staff member quit their job.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police is working with Londonwide LMCs to produce guidance for GP practices on how to minimise violence towards staff.