Like every other aspect of the NHS, our GPs’ surgery has recently been “modernised” with the magic of PFI. This basically means that they’ve given up their old building in return for a newly jerry-built, impressive-looking, totally unfit for purpose building, and a commitment to pour huge amounts of public money into the pockets of a private building company for the next 25 years.
The day came where I needed to see the quack and so I wandered in and staggered through the sweltering heat (glass building – no aircon – nuff said) up to the receptionists to let them know I was here.
“Have you tried using the automated system ?” the receptionist asked.
“Over there” she said impatiently, gesturing towards a line of bewildered looking pensioners who were staring blankly at the screen of a kiosk PC over by the door.
It turns out that these systems are cropping up in many GP surgeries these days. After you identify yourself by selecting your gender and date of birth, you are presented with a list of names and addresses of people that match that criteria…cough…data protection…cough… Once you select your details you are presented with a button labelled:
What ? What does that mean ? What language is that ? Are you supposed to press it ? The biggest problem I have with it is not knowing what is technically incorrect with that phrase; it just seems so, so wrong. Perhaps someone who was lucky enough to be taught English at school could explain it to me.
This system streamlines the entire process of checking in, or “arriving yourself”, by
- Scaring and confusing old people.
- Giving away personal details of other patients.
- Changing the receptionists job from someone who acknowledges your presence, to an application support person who ends up having to explain the whole concept to each and every patient that walks through the door.
No wonder that every time I visit the place the same pantomime is performed:
- Punter walks in and over to reception.
- Receptionist wearily directs them to the PC.
- Depending on the patients level of skill with English and computers they either “arrive themselves” or pathetically stab the screen until they’re forced to go back to the receptionist.
- Rather than capitulate and just “arrive” the patient themselves, they invariably try to explain the procedure and send them back across to the evil device.
- This procedure can continue for three or four cycles until the patient either twigs it or loses the will to live.
Where would we be without such amazing advances in technology ? In with the doctor probably.
[Update: K8 was kind enough to point out that “arrive” is intransitive and therefore should not have an object. Thanks K8, your poshness pays off again 😉 ]