Zara Aziz: Receptionists are the unsung heroes

I am currently reading a very interesting book, The Upside of Stress: Why Stress Is Good for You, and How to Get Good At It.

Let's face it, there is no getting away from the demon, so I might as well accept it with open arms.

It is with this in mind and purpose in my step that I enter the building on a blustery Friday morning and wave hello to the receptionist, who is cheerily negotiating her way through the morning's post.

GPs know their receptionists get a bad press, when in fact they are the unsung heroes of general practice, deserving much more than their poor PR.

From crowd control to fixing the fax, running errands to the post office, delivering urgent medications or even finding crayons and biscuits for the grizzly two-year-old crying in the waiting room, the list of their accomplishments is long. But - as I am soon to find out - it is probably their experience and intuition that often prove to be the most valuable of assets.

By virtue of being on call, I already have a queue of people waiting outside my door, which includes one medical student, an F2 and a district nurse.

They all get in line, ready with their queries as I log in to EMIS Web and root around to find my smartcard. I turn and note that the queue has multiplied, and our receptionist has shouldered her way to the front.

'Sorry, but I think you should know, there is a chap at the front desk, he's here for his blood test with the phlebotomist, but he has this awful rash and I don't like the look of it.

'He didn't really want a doctor's appointment, but he looks like death warmed over, so I made him one anyway for 10.30 with you, but I think you should see him now. He's in the side room. And haven't you all got patients to see? Why are you all sat here?' She shoos everyone out.

My 'rash patient' is indeed unwell, clammy and flushed with fever, and covered from head to toe in an unusual and diffuse erythematous rash. I quickly arrange his admission under the care of the dermatologists.

  • Dr Aziz is a GP partner in north-east Bristol

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