Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Not a national illness service

I received a letter from my GP surgery recently as I now fall into an age group which is offered heart and blood pressure screening. I had to phone up yesterday to make an appointment for a blood test. I don't often ring the doctor so this may be unusual but I got through in a couple of seconds but it took twelve minutes to get connected to an actual person. I had to pay to listen to music interspersed with a comment something like "your call is important to us". I heard it dozens of times but couldn't tell you what they actually said. The music wasn't brilliant either.

Why do companies ask you to pay to wait on their phone line? I wouldn't agree with them charging us for our calls but at least I would understand if there was a financial incentive for these companies to get us hanging on the phone, but I don't think this is the case with my GP.

Some may give the answer that it is an efficient way of diverting the call to the appropriate department, but it wasn't in this case and even if there are different departments then just give me the phone number of the appropriate department. When they are ready to speak with me and they pick the phone up then I will start paying. It is ironic that a screening process for high blood pressure may be a factor in causing high blood pressure.

At the risk of sounding too much like a grumpy old man I will finish on a positive note. I am pleased at screening initiatives and this fits with the name National Health Service rather than its usual role as a national illness service.

Change the world


  1. On Tuesday my car wouldn't start, and I had a doctor's appointment. As I left my house I called the surgery on my mobile to make them aware that I was going to be delayed. I was almost in Morecambe town centre before I got a person on the line, so yes, I was waiting for around 10 minutes, and paying for the priveledge of waiting...and listening to the rubbish music and twee messages. Grrr. I'd sooner they went back to the plain engaged tone, and you have to keep trying to get through.

  2. The trouble is that we now both sound like grumpy old people.

    1. Yes...we do! but it is the doctor's phone system that is at fault...It was MUCH simpler when you got the engaged tone and had to keep trying