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

schmeah 15 September 2010 125

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?


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.

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125 Responses to Do you have an appointment? Yes, but you’ll still be waiting.
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Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 3:54 pm 15 Sep 10

Mate, I’ve already set aside 50c for motleychick. How about I put aside a couple of twenty cent coins so next time you can call ahead and not be nearly hospitalised by an outrage-triggered aneurism?

Just let me know where to send it. I’ll see if I can find a round envelope so you don’t hurt yourself on the corners.

johnboy johnboy 3:51 pm 15 Sep 10

Ah “someone somewhere else does it worse” and “it’s how we’ve always done it”.

The two responses guaranteed to make sure even simple, cheap and easy fixes never get made.

Lin Lin 3:49 pm 15 Sep 10

I agree that if they run that late regularly, they should change how they plan their appointments. Also, $75 x 6 = $450 per hour. Apparantly it is expensive to run a doctor’s practice, but I can see a specialist for a full hour for between $120 and $180 or $240 at most.

I call ahead too. But it’s still annoying. And if they refuse to call or text you when it gets close to being your turn, you have to keep popping in to see how they’re travelling.

I also have waited 30+ mins when I had the first appointment in the morning.

But once they start running really late – ie. more than an hour behind – that’s when you pay the price if they feel that they can get you out of their office in under 5 mins so they can try make up some of the lost time. Been there, done that too. And still paid my $75 for a less than satisfactory service.

If Google could prescribe drugs, I’d usually be better of using that and staying well clear of any GP in this town.

schmeah schmeah 3:41 pm 15 Sep 10

Like I said, more than happy to wait the odd 20 -30 minutes and read while I’m there but I don’t think a 90 minute wait is appropriate for anyone. People have lives and commitments and seeing as it takes a week to get in, having to wait another week because you’re appointment was heavily delayed is a real bind. And who really takes 2 hours of reading material to the doctor’s waiting lounge without getting a bit shirty about it?

The Medicare system is there to accomodate people who are disadvantaged, not to accomodate doctor’s who can’t keep an appointment time within some 20 % margin of error.

Apologies for the rant, I thought this was the riot act though.

Woody Mann-Caruso Woody Mann-Caruso 3:39 pm 15 Sep 10

I was completely outraged by this situation

DIAGNOSIS: histrionic personality disorder
TREATMENT: 25cc concrete daily
PROGNOSIS: If HTFU unsuccessful, may require STFU

Rollersk8r Rollersk8r 3:36 pm 15 Sep 10

I go to Ainslie, they are notoriously late, even when you phone and check. But that’s life.

Last time I was there a guy lost it at how late they were, gave the whole “you’ve just lost a customer” rant and stormed out. I thought this was hilarious. It’s a doctor’s office, not a fast food restaurant. And storming out only means you have to make another appointment and waste your time elsewhere. But cheers mate – you’ve just saved me 1 place in line!

Noezis Noezis 3:35 pm 15 Sep 10

Do you even know how a doctor’s surgery works?

First of all the receptionist takes bookings but also manages multiple calls with pathology labs, specialists and other doctors and not to mention doing all the patient paperwork, filing medical records and in particular the financial books on behalf of the doctor. So yes, them calling you to let you know that your appointment will not be on time is too much work for them.

Doctors work on a 10 to 15 minute turn around time, but as your doctor said they are generally thorough with each and every patient. I suspect you may have caught him on a day when he had two or three patients who had some medical issues which are not immediately obvious and the doctor has had to do a more comprehensive exam to determine what the issues are.
The next time you go in with a medical issue that cannot be explained immediately and the doctor examines you for 20 minutes, taking comprehensive notes on your history and possibly contacting a specialist on your behalf to get you an appointment sooner rather than later, think about the person in the waiting room swearing at the doctor for delaying their appointment.

fozzy fozzy 3:29 pm 15 Sep 10

Name and shame.

arthwollipot arthwollipot 3:24 pm 15 Sep 10

This is not at all unusual in my experience. You can ring ahead to see how late your doctor is, but I always go prepared for a ten-minute wait at minimum.

vg vg 3:21 pm 15 Sep 10

Curiously enough I attended probably the same Ainslie practice for the first time today. Little fella urgently needed attention. I rang at 1000 and they were able to squeeze me in at 1115. I duly turned up and was ushered into the surgery at 1121, a whole 6 mins late.

Completely outraged? FFS get a life.

Travel to a country where people have zero medical access or even food. Then you can use the complete part of your outrage.

tortfeaser tortfeaser 3:19 pm 15 Sep 10

Its just poor form. There are umpteen different tools the surgery could use to SMS clients from their reservation system. There is no reason you should have to expect poor service.

clp clp 3:09 pm 15 Sep 10

But you’ve clearly got enough time to write a long rant about the experience.

Yes its frustrating having to wait for a doctor but thats the way the medicare system is set up – encouraging doctors to book shorter consultation times. They also do not know ahead of time how long a consultation will last – some may be less than 5 minutes or else some may relate to complex health problems and require extra time.

For your own mental health you would be better accepting that going to see your doctor is going to take a lot of time – prepare yourself by taking something to read (or perhaps some work you can get on with) and accept that learning to wait is a fact of life.

Or else you can get yourself all outraged and what good does that achieve? I’m sure the practice isn’t thinking “oh yes that person is right, s/he should be charging us for wasting his/her time”.

Gungahlin Al Gungahlin Al 3:03 pm 15 Sep 10

It’s one thing to be that late in the late afternoon. But it is really poor when they make you wait half an hour past a 9am appointment time, as I experienced the other day!

But you are right – there’s is little respect for other people’s time, and they really need to rethink their scheduling practices.

shirty_bear shirty_bear 2:57 pm 15 Sep 10

Bank manager will be punctual – he/she’s actually afraid you’ll take your money elsewhere. Quacks in this town don’t have that fear. These sorts of wait times for doctors appears commonplace nowadays; on the upside, it suggests they’re actually giving a sh*t rather than running people through with an eye on the clock. Agree that a bigger standard window would make sense (and presumably add to the $75 standard fee).

Inappropriate Inappropriate 2:57 pm 15 Sep 10

Suck it up princess.

It’s common knowledge that doctors often run behind, so you don’t make appointments late in the morning, or late in the afternoon. If you do, you phone ahead and ask how far behind the doctor is running.

golden_youth golden_youth 2:56 pm 15 Sep 10

ohh how precious you are! why not think of some of us who aren’t as lucky to have a doctor and the luxury of booking an appointment its not unusual for me to wait 2-3 hrs for a dr at a medical centre

majorLazer majorLazer 2:53 pm 15 Sep 10

same thing happened to me in Hughes medical centre, had to wait almost an hour after the allotted appointment time. Never again will I visit that place, if I have to wait that long, shouldn’t I just go to Phillip Medical centre where GP doesn’t have an appointment based system 🙁

DeadlySchnauzer DeadlySchnauzer 2:53 pm 15 Sep 10

Er don’t want to sound snarky, but is it really that difficult to make a 30 second phone call before you head out to an appointment?

PM PM 2:53 pm 15 Sep 10

That sucks. It’s tough to plan because some people need only 5 mins and others need heaps, but it would be courteous to contact you if it was obvious that your appointment wouldn’t have been ready for a while.

KB1971 KB1971 2:51 pm 15 Sep 10

I try to make my appointments first thing in the morning so I am not delayed. Delays & doctors have gone hand in hand since time began.

Did you stop to consider what emergencys may have happened during the day?

Best laid plans of mice & men & all that….

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