The link worker will see you now

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In the latest in our occasional series of fly-on-the-wall documentaries from the world of general practice we look at how non-medical advances are making life more convenient for patients and relieving pressure on busy doctors. This week we take the lid off social prescribing.

Patient: Good morning. I’d like to see the doctor.

Receptionist: May I ask what about?

Patient: I’m feeling under the weather.

Receptionist: Is that a medical condition?

Patient: I’m not sure.

Receptionist: I can’t help you if you don’t know.

Patient: I was hoping the doctor would tell me.

Receptionist: It doesn’t work like that any more. About half of appointments are unnecessary. Are you necessary?

Patient: I’m not sure.

Receptionist: Because unless you are I’m going to have to refer you to a social prescriber.

Patient (worried): I have a social disease?

Receptionist: I’m just the receptionist. I couldn’t possibly tell you.

Patient: I just want to see an expert.

Receptionist: I can find out if our assistant signposting link worker can see you.

Patient: I don’t need a bloody signpost.

Receptionist: I can see you’re getting cross. Would you like to talk to someone about anger management? Or I can recommend pilates. It’s very calming. Have you tried scuba diving, vegan cooking, singing…?

Patient: This conversation is giving me a headache.

Receptionist: Now we’re getting somewhere. Would you like to see the doctor?

Patient: Yes, yes please.

Receptionist: Why didn’t you say so? Just go on our website and download the app. Then follow the instructions for online registration and book an appointment at a time that suits you. I expect we’ll see you in a couple of weeks.

High-impact editor: Julian Patterson

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Reproduced at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Julian Patterson.