Hungerford Surgery Patient Participation Group
We all know the NHS is under pressure, as the demand for primary care
services far outstrips supply. That is true for Hungerford Surgery as for
many GP surgeries.
Our first contact with the surgery is the person at the front desk or on
We thought you would like to understand a little more about those members
of staff and what they actually do from day-to-day as they try to help signpost
us to the best healthcare professional for our needs.
So here’s an interview conducted by the PPG on 2nd August this year
with Loren and Faith at the surgery:
What do you love about your job?
We're a part of the community, and we do a difficult job because we're the
bridge between the patients, doctors and nurses, but it's really rewarding
seeing patients get the care they need. Signposting is a key skill in trying
to get the right appointment for the patient at the right time and with
the right healthcare professional. Patients don’t always need to see
a doctor and obtaining a key piece of information from the patient can make
all the difference as to how best we can help them.
Are you local to the area?
All the reception and admin staff live in the town or surrounding villages
and it helps when we know our patients and are able to build relationships
to understand their needs.
Is there a downside to being in Hungerford?
Not really. When we are out shopping lots of people speak and are really
friendly. We see so many people and it often takes us a while to realise
where they know us from but apart from the odd health related question,
when we are off duty, it is a real positive and privilege living and working
within the community of Hungerford.
What were your first thoughts about your career?
We always wanted to be in the caring profession and feel that we are at
the heart of Hungerford working in the surgery, but on the organisational
not the clinical side ... “I don’t think I could ever stick
a needle in someone's arm!” The practice has been really supportive
with lots of training and opportunities and Faith is our apprentice who
is combining her studies with working at the surgery.
What advice would you give someone coming to do your job?
First and foremost be organised! You need to be ready with a diary, making
schedules and sorting out priorities. Broad shoulders are a must too because
one minute you are welcoming and registering a new baby and the next having
to deal with a bereaved relative or friend who has lost someone dear to
them. Most important is that we try to be empathetic and calm at all times,
even if someone is in considerable pain or feeling stressed. When someone
is poorly they can feel frustrated, despite us trying our best to help.
But we keep on trying and get there in the end.
What do your friends say about your job?
Most people don’t realise what a receptionist does and even when they
first apply for the job people often think it's just keeping the office
tidy and booking appointments but this makes up only a small fraction of
our day. We spend a huge amount of time dealing with a vast range of enquiries
such as organising hospital transport, sorting out prescriptions, updating
clinical notes, giving out blood test results as authorised by the doctors
and endless chasing so that patients get the services they need. Behind
that is a large amount of administration work and ordering of supplies to
help keep the surgery ticking over. No one day is ever the same and we enjoy
our jobs despite some days being very demanding and stressful.
What do you wish patients knew about your job?
How intense it is … taking call after call. You have to be something
different to each patient. We might speak to one patient, who is lonely
and who might not have talked to anyone in days and really need a chat;
the next patient might be suffering from a terminal illness; or someone
with a prescription problem. There is never a dull moment! It does make
me very specific when I call my own GP because you’re aware of the
huge pressure they’re under: they might have a full morning clinic
seeing patients, meetings with other healthcare professionals, urgent visits
and calls, and then you knock at their door with a query or a last minute
addition to a clinic, they do an amazing job. Also we've got thousands of
names on our patient list, so please give the receptionist your name and
date of birth! It's amazing how many people ring off without giving their
name … there are lots of John Smiths so we need to know which one
I couldn't get through the weekend without:
A rest! Knowing that when we leave for the day that the 111 service takes
over, and we can take a break and have the odd glass of wine … doctor’s
orders of course!.