The Ten Minute Rule

This is a little anecdote that has nothing to do with MH (aside from the fact that it was my own MH that found me in a particular place at a particular time).

Last Friday morning, I had to visit the Practice Nurse to have some dressings changed.  Directly ahead of me in the queue was a lady who appeared to be quite badly disabled.  She was most likely in her forties, walked with a stick and had both wrists strapped up.  She seemed quite shaken as she explained she was late, but had phoned ahead and been promised that she’d be seen regardless.  She went on to become quite tearful as she relayed her difficulties in finding a parking space and rushing, with quite obvious limited mobility, to the Surgery.  To clarify, her appointment was 11.00…this was 11:15, so she was 15 minutes late.  The Receptionist  fussed a little and then disappeared.  She returned with a second Receptionist who transpired to be the person the (by now quite upset patient) had spoken to on the phone.

What came next still dumbfounds be, it really does.  The second Receptionist acknowledged that she had indeed spoken to this lady on the phone, but that she had also explained the ’10 minute rule’ (seriously…?) whereby any patient more than 10 minutes late will absolutely not be seen.  She seemed blind to the fact that the lady was upset, and that this was all taking place in front of a busy waiting room and a, by now quite lengthy, queue of people.  The patient became further distressed and explained her tardiness for a second time.  Receptionist number two eventually conceded that she would speak to the GP concerned, but that she doubted that the ’10 minute rule’ could be breached.  The patient hobbled to a seat, and tried to gather herself.  Within 60 seconds, the GP called her through…

The ‘ten minute rule’…?  Honestly…?  It reminded me of the ‘three’s a crowd’ rule employed in a Supermarket where I worked as a student.  We couldn’t have any more than three people queuing at one checkout before someone else had to get behind a till and alleviate the busy spell.

Why are Doctor Surgery Receptionists so nasty…?  Why can’t they consider the needs of each person individually, and do their best to help?  They have no idea who is coming to see the GP, or why.  They don’t know what stress factors are present in the lives of the people who pass through the doors.  Is it really necessary to adopt a ‘jobs worth’ attitude and essentially intimidate vulnerable people?  A little more compassion, please people.


5 thoughts on “The Ten Minute Rule

  1. I had this today with my Therapist’s admin. Cold human beings, with little regard to individuals and their situations. There’s still good people out there though.


  2. Very true.
    I am very fortunate that my GP has two very very nice receptionists who always make allowances for me because they know I’m particularly vulnerable. They are very kind and patient, esp with elderly people where it’s so important and it really does make all the difference.
    Also, I don’t know if this is the same where you are but in my GP your usually always seen about half an hour late (sometimes more) anyway rendering any stupid ten minute rule useless esp if you’ve made the effort to call and explain! X


  3. I’m always late to my GP appointment, but they are usually running late too cos they take more time than allotted!

    When I was unemployed due to my depression previously, I heard a rumour that there was a benefits advisor at the surgery. I asked the receptionist, who suggested I went to the local children’s centre. When I pointed out I couldn’t as I did didn’t have any children, she questioned why I couldn’t work anyway!! Shocking considering most conditions wouldn’t be visible on the outside – depression, heart problems, cancer…so many possibilities!!


  4. This has made me so angry! Why make such a fuss and upset the woman more when she obviously could be seen, I don’t like it when people do things like that just to make things a bit more interesting for themselves. Poor woman x


    1. I know, some people just never think about things before they act; like I say, just a jobs worth with illusions of grandeur who ended up looking the fool anyway. I’d hate to think I’ve ever upset anyone like that x


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