Our helpline team have recently received quite a few calls from patients concerned about having to answer a series of questions from receptionists before being allowed to make an appointment with their GP.
This happened to Sandra* who was upset by the experience and called us asking if this was allowed, and could she do anything about it.
We advised Sandra that this is now quite common as it helps the GP practice make sure their patients are given appointments with the best doctor, nurse or specialist for their particular care and treatment needs.
However, like Sandra not everyone feels comfortable sharing details of their health issues with anyone other than a medical professional. We told her that she was perfectly within her rights to ask the receptionist why she was being asked for the information at that stage. We also suggested she contacted the practice manager to ask what the practice policy was regarding booking appointments, and if the receptionists concerned had received any training.
If she did not get a satisfactory response, we then advised Sandra to share her experience with her Patient Participation Group and the Care Quality Commission.
Finally, we suggested Sandra checks whether her practice has an online appointment booking system which would avoid any contact with the receptionist.
*Name changed for privacy