A day in the life of…a Foundry Receptionist 

Name & role 

Michelle – Receptionist / Administrator

The job you do

My main role is to listen to, advise and direct patients so that they get the outcome they need from our services. This also means liaising daily with our clinicians, secondary care services, and community organisations. Alongside which I perform a multitude of administrative tasks.

In other words

Organiser, firefighter, agony aunt, and on occasion magic wand waver!

What might a typical day look like?

Mornings are usually very busy. Here’s my shortlist… Answering phones and allocating appointments within a reasonable timescale based upon urgency; Greeting patients as they arrive; Making appointments for patients who are already in the surgery, such as blood tests after they have seen a GP; Contacting patients and other healthcare professionals as requested by GPs. For patients known to have memory issues or difficulties we may even call them ahead of their appointments to remind them, or to make sure they have what they need in place to attend.

I continue to take calls throughout the day. Further admin tasks are allocated amongst the team, taking turns in order to have a break from calls.  These might include processing prescription requests, sorting and scanning medical forms and documents received from hospitals, answering emails, registering / removing patients, and completing eConsult forms.  We have seen a large increase in communication from patients via email / website messages as a result of the pandemic, every one of which needs to be responded to.

I ask for a brief reason for the call from every patient, so I can best direct the call in terms of priority, and where we place the appointment / query / concern. Depending on the reason given, patients may be directed to speak with a GP, Nurse, Paramedic, Social Prescriber, or an Advance Nurse Practitioner, with the aim to get them to the right person for their particular needs. For example our Nurses can help with Asthma, COPD, Contraception and  Diabetes management.

Sometimes we deal with extremely serious issues, such as patients calling suffering from chest pains, or those whose mental health puts them in an unsafe place. We do our best to help everyone in need of urgent care.

Some patients can sound quite cross or sharp when calling or visiting, for all sorts of reasons. I know that some of these patients might just have received some difficult news, perhaps a cancer diagnosis, or similar. Others may be worried about a loved one, a sick child or parent for example.  Healthcare can make people very anxious!

Qualities in quantities

Patience, empathy, people skills, efficiency

Highs and Lows

Highs – Enabling a patient to access the right kind of help in their time of need and seeing an improvement or a patient recovery from a severe illness.

Lows – seeing patients’ health decline, difficult diagnoses of familiar patients, processing death notifications.

Message in a bottle

We are all in this job because we care and want to help people, it isn’t a perfect system but we do our absolute best for all our patients, sometimes in very complicated circumstances. Right now we face huge demand for services – we are just as frustrated as you that we can’t deliver everything all at once!

Help us to help you by keeping calls short and to the point, understanding when there are delays, and not taking it personally when we can’t give you everything you want!

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