While my local surgery has a feedback/comment/complaint page on its website,  it does not allow for well-formatted text and it does not allow for email or uploading of letters. So I have posted my feedback here and submitted a link to it on their feedback page so that they can find this feedback…

After registering with my local surgery, I went in for my initial appointment with the nurse.

While registering, I had written down in the “special equipment needs during consultations” section of the registration form my “need” to record my consultations using my mobile phone.

Because I had written this, the surgery’s administrator or perhaps practise manager was on-hand to tell me that I would NOT be allowed to record during the session, as it was simply against their policy which requires patients’ mobile phones to be turned off.

She did however say she would bring the “request” to the panel who were meeting the same day and let me know their “answer”. I don’t know their answer, as yet.

But by way of feedback regarding this experience so far, here are my subsequent thoughts;

  1. I think that they cannot in fact prevent me from recording my consultations, as I believe that UK law allows recording as long as you alert others to the fact that you are recording.

  2. She didn’t ask or discuss with me why I felt that I needed to record my consultations.

  3. She didn’t explain the rationale behind the phones off policy at the surgery.

  4. If she was simply worried about contravening a policy, then she could have thoughtfully suggested that I bring in a dictaphone to use instead of the mobile phone as there was probably no policy concerning dictaphones.

  5. If instead, she was actually worried about audible records of consultations being made and kept by patients – and the potential financial/legal/reputation risks that these might bring, then I would suggest that an examination of what lays behind those perceived risks would be appropriate – and then balanced against the risks associated with patients not fully comprehending (and later not recalling) the professional’s diagnosis and prescribed treatment.

  6. She didn’t introduce herself, as far as I can recall.

  7. She didn’t address me by name, as far as I can recall.

  8. This was a transactional intervention to prevent the patient from recording the session.

  9. I am getting on in life, living on my own in a completely new area (hence my newly registering at the surgery). As my life progresses in my new surroundings, health issues will at times surface and I will have no one readily available to discuss them with – especially if today’s sampling of the service provided by the surgery turns out to be “normal” for them. So recording my consultations will enable me to properly reflect on what was said during a consultation; e.g.

    1. Did I tell or ask them everything I wanted to / that they needed to know about, in order to diagnose my situation properly?

    2. What exactly did they want me to do and for how long and just as importantly – why?

    3. What did they say I should look out for?

    4. Which of my concerns did they dismiss or not address and why?

    5. Did they say there may be potential side effects from my doing or not doing certain things?

    6. When should I (and should I not) book another appointment?

  10. All these questions are very typical for me to have after a consultation. It’s also typical that I don’t actually know the answers to most of these questions – despite the fact that it is my own health we are talking about!

  11. This is why I want to record – so that I can better manage my own health, by having the space and time to more fully reflect on and understand my situation after the actual consultation.

  12. NHS Cumbria is experiencing its own emergency care concerns, with patients over-running its facilities and professionals approaching burn-out, trying to service them as fast and as efficiently as possible.

  13. It behoves any surgery needing to keep repeated visits regarding the same issue down to a minimum,  to better ensure that their customers understand things the first time around. That calls for two-way dialogue, rather than simple unilateral assertions.

  14. And sometimes, that two-way dialogue is simply not enough, because the customer is easily nonplussed by the professional’s assertive behaviour or use of technical / professional language.

  15. Such behaviour may shut the customer up during the consultation, as it did me today – but that transactional “win” perpetuates the unsustainable loss that comes in the form of overworked and burned out professionals who are unable to bear up to the brunt of repeated (and preventable) follow-up visits because the patient did not understand the reasoning behind (and therefore did not follow through with)  the prescribed course of treatment.

  16. Worse, having not listened to the client well in the first place, decisions are made without full knowledge of the patient’s condition. And just as patients can misdiagnose themselves through inadequate knowledge of where to research things on their own, professionals can misdiagnose by not taking the time to properly discuss (and uncover) the reasons behind a patient’s being in their surgery in the first place.

  17. And perhaps this potential for misdiagnosis is what lays behind the objection to my recording my visit with the nurse today. This thought of course has created an unease within me regarding the practice I have just registered with.

  18. I cannot know to what degree my recollection and interpretation of the above is accurate. But here’s the thing; It doesn’t actually matter, because what is indisputably real is my reaction to my perception – what I do in response to how I feel about the experience I had at the surgery.

  19. And to the degree that the practice wants its patients’ behavior to engender health and to reflect positively on the practice, then patient perception management is worth considering – and that may mean behaviour management / modification for the practice.

  20. Being “professional” but inconsiderate is not acceptable to me.

  21. In addition, my experiences thus far with the surgery have highlighted gaps between expectations set via the website or registration forms and the actual experiences I have had in the surgery itself.

    1. The website says “Please complete the online form below if you wish to register…” But when I came in afterwards to show proof of identity, I was told that I had to register in-person, with pen-in-hand and that nothing would or could be done with the online forms that I had already filled out.

    2. The website says “On the form, you will be able to say which practitioner you would prefer to see. However, you will be registering with the practice rather than an individual GP. “ So I took the time to read the profiles of the GPs before registering. Afterwards, I did not notice any place in the registration process to indicate which practitioner I would prefer to see and when I asked the receptionist in the surgery how I might do this, I was told that you can’t. You can ask when you make an appointment to see a particular GP, but you cannot choose one to be your general default GP.

    3. Somewhere on the paper forms (I think it was the paper forms, rather than the website) that I filled in, it says that when you register, the surgery will want to take blood and urine samples when you visit the nurse. None were asked for or taken.

  22. Let me be clear – I don’t live my life looking for opportunities to write missives like this one. Life’s too short. But being new to the area and the surgery, I happen to be acutely aware of first impressions and their impact on newly forming relationships – and I want to form a sustainable, positive one with my local surgery.

  23. I am hoping that given this feedback, the surgery’s response to my need to record my consultations will be honoured and that perhaps some of the other points I have raised will be addressed as well.