These are the unsung heroes in every Sheffield doctor's surgery

As we debate how we can get general practice back to normal, it is important we recognise the unsung heroes of this pandemic. In general practice it’s the reception and back-office staff. You may not have realised it but behind the ‘closed doors’ of GP surgeries, the receptionists, managers and admin staff have been working non-stop in tough conditions.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 12:00 am
Elderly patient and receptionist at registration at the reception at the doctor

Practice managers, and their team of admin staff are the ones the organise how practices work. When there’s staff shortages, they cover shifts. When the appointment system grinds to a halt they manage the solution, if there’s a flood they sort the clean-up. They are the operational lynch pins of the organisations. So can you imagine how Covid has turned their world upside down. Practice managers have been desperately keeping services afloat and adapting amid daily changes in rules. What is usually an incredibly stressful job has been verging on impossible.

The receptionists, those ‘battleaxes’ that stand in the way of you and a doctor or nurse, have been incredible. Every patient that has phoned or buzzed at the door has been screened for Covid symptoms. Receptionists are literally the frontline of healthcare, they absorb the stress and fear of every uncertain patient, call after call. I know you might occasionally get a shorter response than you might hope for, but as I walk through reception, I hear patient and compassionate people trying to help.

Demand for appointments has gone through the roof. In my practice often the day’s slots are ‘sold out’ by 9.30am. We just haven’t got the staff or funding to meet demand. Imagine the dread of the receptionist that knows every call after 9.30am is going to require a explanation and disappointment. I know our receptionists want to be problem solvers, it is the system that stops them. It is not their fault, but they bear the brunt of the blame.

Unfortunately it is increasingly common that GPs get messaged by receptionists to report abuse. The same people are ‘nice as pie’ when they see the GP. So please help us spread the word, general practice is a team. We all need to work together in these incredibly stressful times.