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Do you have an appointment? Yes, but you’ll still be waiting.

By schmeah 15 September 2010 126

A recent experience at an Ainslie practice recently has left me pretty pissed off at the treatment of people who make appointments, keep them and yet are still expected to wait inconveniently long times for the other half to come to the party!

I had a scheduled appointment for 4 pm to see my doctor. Being retentive about making appointments and turning up on time, I rocked up at 4 and was told that said doctor had ‘1, 2, 3 oh no, 4’ patients ahead of me still waiting. I responded politely saying that I had left work early at 3:30 to make the appointment and it would have been equally polite for the surgery to call me and advise me that my doctor was so far behind schedule. I was told that ‘we don’t do that here, would you like to go away and come back in 40 minutes or stay’. Failing to see the attraction of waiting in a room full of sick people for 40 minutes, I said I’d come back.

So, turning up at 4:45 (5 minutes late I know) I was told that the doctor now had 2 people in front of me and ‘please take a seat’ – having already come from work to the doctors, gone home and returned I failed to see the benefit in going home again. So I waited, a full 30 minutes until my name finally got called .. at 5:15 pm a full hour and 15 minutes after my appointment time and nearly 2 hours after I had left work.

As I was leaving said Doctor’s office about 10 minutes later I politely stated that my appointment was at 4 pm and I didn’t get in until 5:15 pm, ‘could I please just pay the gap and be gone’. Perhaps I was stupid to think that an inner north doctor would be sympathetic to my situation because to say the least said doctor got snarky. I was told – ‘I’m not in here on holidays you know, I work hard, I’m thorough with my patients and I appreciate their patient, it’ll be $75’. Shut door.

Well said: I’d like you to note that, I too am not on holidays – in case my work clothing looks like theatre costume – I came from work to keep my appointment, leaving a full 90 minutes early. It’s very obvious that you are thorough with your patients, this is admirable, but perhaps in order to remain so diligent with their treatment and to not piss off you other patients you might like to expand your consultation times out by 10 minutes because the current system is obviously not working. Further, I am patient like everyone, I’ve waited 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there to see my doctor and I’ve never found this time lag inconvenient, it’s almost expected (sad as it is).  Said doctor’s attitude was totally perplexing and offensive to say the least- I, and I imagine other patients have lives outside of the off visit to the doctor – I don’t expect to make an appointment, turn up on time and be told I will have to wait over an hour to get in – forgive me for not calling in advance but really, shouldn’t that be the surgery’s job?

When I went to pay – the full $75, I asked quietly – (even though the waiting room was empty except for one poor man who’s appointment no doubt was scheduled for 4:30) ‘is it the policy of the surgery to not contact patients when their doctor is running more than an hour behind?’. I was given the response that ‘we don’t have the facilities to do that here – we do however recommend that patients call ahead .. Just in case’

Right, so what you’re saying is that – I have to do your job for you, not only do I have to wait more than a week for an available appointment time with said doctor, I also have to call on the day to make sure everything is chugging along happily and I can expect to get in on time. Does that phone next to you work by the way?  When it rings, and you answer are you just talking to yourself?

Rubbish!

I was completely outraged by this situation, that I had to wait so long beyond my appointment time to get in and then be told that in the future, it’s my job to call ahead. Unless you’re dying .. I would say go to a doctor elsewhere because the phones at this practice don’t work.

Oh goodness, is that the time?  I have an appointment with my bank manager in 2 hours, I should call ahead now to make sure said manager will be available at 4 pm, like I arranged for.

What’s Your opinion?


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Do you have an appointment? Yes, but you’ll still be waiting.
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vg 7:19 pm 26 Sep 10

poppy said :

If (as some have suggested) we should complain about doctors being greedy then point the finger at specialists firstly.

I recently tried to get an appointment at an opthamologist in Canberra, whom I had a referal to. I was asked by the receptionist “are you a new patient?” I said yes, then was asked “is it about a cataract surgery?” I said no, they said, “is it about some other type of surgery?” I said no, and the awkward pause led me to believe I should explain why I wanted an appointment. After explaining my medical condition, the receptionist told me “the doctor isn’t taking any new patients”.

My point is, many specialists have a huge financial incentive to only take patients who need simple, but lucrative surgeries.

If seeing a specialist and you don’t need a surgery, be aware that the specialist gets paid double for the initial consult and for follow up visits, they only get around half the fee. So, the specialist is very keen to get you out the door after your first visit because you really become a liability.

I would have said that it was inappropriate for me to be discussing my medical condition at length with a receptionist, and it was best my serious condition was dealt with by a medical professional

ronafios 1:00 pm 26 Sep 10

It’s just basic customer service to provide a sense of wait times using some method or other.

It’s not a significant cost to a practice.

When (essentially) the rest of the business world runs based on kept appointments, it’s frustrating to have a few groups who consistently opt-out of the unwritten agreement. A doctor’s appt is expensive, and more so when work time is lost. In my experience, doctors can develop a superiority complex based on the demand for their services, forgetting that they expect timely service when visiting the professionals they use (lawyers, accountants etc). It would be less frustrating if it was complicated to solve.

vg 6:57 am 25 Sep 10

Went to the same Ainslie practice on Monday for a 0915 appointment. Walked into the doctor’s room at 0917 and out at 0930 and had great service

No problems there at all

poppy 9:28 pm 24 Sep 10

If (as some have suggested) we should complain about doctors being greedy then point the finger at specialists firstly.

I recently tried to get an appointment at an opthamologist in Canberra, whom I had a referal to. I was asked by the receptionist “are you a new patient?” I said yes, then was asked “is it about a cataract surgery?” I said no, they said, “is it about some other type of surgery?” I said no, and the awkward pause led me to believe I should explain why I wanted an appointment. After explaining my medical condition, the receptionist told me “the doctor isn’t taking any new patients”.

My point is, many specialists have a huge financial incentive to only take patients who need simple, but lucrative surgeries.

If seeing a specialist and you don’t need a surgery, be aware that the specialist gets paid double for the initial consult and for follow up visits, they only get around half the fee. So, the specialist is very keen to get you out the door after your first visit because you really become a liability.

matt31221 5:56 pm 20 Sep 10

If you don’t like the service you received at your GP Schmeah, take your $$$ elsewhere we live in a capitalistic society. Especially if your doctor snaps at you I’d see that as a red flag. There are an absolute minority of doctors that would do you harm eg, Patel. And so if your doctor behaves negatively towards you with a slightly sociopathic comment I’d straight away change doctors. Just like every trade you get good and bad. I’d say the majority of doctors are life saving angels that would not hesitate to do anything to safe your life in an emergency, god bless them. And they are under a lot of pressure and responsibility so give them a break. Find a good doctor and reward him/her with good cash I say.

Grail 5:16 pm 20 Sep 10

The way to get your GP clinic to have more predictable queuing times is to bring in involuntary euthanasia, and anytime a patient exceeds their allocated time per visit or time per month, you euthanise them.

Thin the herd, and all that. They wouldn’t be taking up so much time if they were the fittest that are supposed to survive, right?

Alternately, pay doctors more per visit so they can afford to schedule fewer visits per day, and we can have more doctors because some people will get into medicine if they feel there’s money in being a GP. That, and train people from a young age to be concerned about the health and wellbeing of others.

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