Pointless bureaucracy

We switched GP surgeries a few years ago when it became evident the one we used didn’t like families. They had a ban on pushchairs and prams you see, and their waiting room was on the second floor. This lead to several problems; the risk of theft of our pram* and sitting with a newborn on your lap for upwards of an hour after the appointment date being the biggest two. Pushchairs were a fire risk in a way that wheelchairs weren’t, since disability discrimination laws meant they couldn’t ban wheelchairs, they decided to ban pushchairs. Cunning plan.

Of course each GP surgery has it’s own denier of services receptionist that you have to negotiate with for an appointment, as well as it’s own set of arcane rules about when you can and cannot book an appointment. Our current surgery has the bizarre policy of making you book an appointment on the day or two weeks in advance but nothing in between (with the exception of a few random appointments that are up for grabs on a first come first served basis- next Tuesday at 11am any good sir?). Obviously when the phone line opens and 8.30am for bookings you have to hit dial, hear the engaged tone, hang and and immediately hit redial until you get through or by about 8.45am you wont get an appointment. My record (according to the phone log at work) is around 70 calls before getting through.

Even we’re not sure why we’re on the surgery’s home page.
Obviously we’re happy as we’ve not tried to get an appointment.

Added to this our current surgery’s receptionist is often really rude (even for a receptionist) because there happens to be a gypsy girl registered at the practice with the same name as wifey and they’re incapable of discerning the difference between my wife (raised in North London) and an Irish traveller when she calls them up on the telephone. I’m not making any comment about the other girl but I get the distinct impression the receptionist doesn’t like her.

At one point we were at loggerheads with them as they insisted the boy had moved to Brighton (he hadn’t, and we hadn’t either) and his medical records in terms of inoculations were at odds with what the nurse had written in his red book.

Still, on the rare occasions when you can get to see a doctor, they are very nice and helpful but today they broke all records for stupid bureaucracy. Danger has a bit of a wheezy chest and has for a while, so Wifey wanted to get this checked out. Better safe than sorry with a not quite three month old I’m sure you’d agree. Fifi appears to have become a trifle deaf recently too, shouting “WHAT?” loudly all the time and generally ignoring instruction even more than usual, so we wanted a referral for a hearing test.


They wont do a hearing test referral over the phone without seeing the patient and they don’t have any double appointments left. So the receptionist told Wifey over the phone, “You’ll have to pick which of your children is in the most need of seeing the doctor, we can book an appointment for the other one for next Monday.” Next Monday is Easter holidays, so that would entail dragging three children to the surgery and anyway, what sort of person asks a Mum to pick which one of her children she wants to be seen by a doctor this week? When Wifey pointed out that seeing both of them wouldn’t take as long as most normal appointments; a quick listen to baby’s chest and a note to write a referral out for Fifi, the usual denier of services receptionist instinct kicked in because it’s against the rules.



After strolling in 15 minutes late for the first appointment in the afternoon surgery, the half-witted doctor decided she needed to go and check with the receptionist to see whether she could look in Fifi’s ears after looking Danger’s illness up on the internet. She was gone 5 minutes, about 5 times as long as it would have taken to look in Fifi’s ears and then when she came back she said she didn’t have time to look in Fifi’s ears. I beginning to wonder if the whole world is mad.

*they had a spate of thefts. Didn’t take a genius to work out that was going to be an issue.