When you phone your local GP practice you'll normally speak to a receptionist. They can:
- provide basic information on services
- give messages and information from your healthcare professional, including test results
- direct you to the right person, depending on your health needs or query
Reception teams do not make clinical decisions, but they've had training to help signpost patients get to the most appropriate service.
When making an appointment, they'll need to know your:
- date of birth
- contact details
This is to ensure they know they're talking to the right person. This also ensures that if they need to call you back for any reason, they've got the information they need to do that.
To help you get the most appropriate care, receptionists need to have an outline of the reason you are calling. This means you might need to share some of your own health information with them.
Practice receptionists, patient advisors and care co-ordinators all have an important role in supporting you to access the care you need. The information you give to them helps the GP or other healthcare professional to plan their workload for the day, so that patients in the greatest need are dealt with first.
Everyone who provides an NHS service is bound to keep your private health information confidential, including the reception team. You don't need to share very detailed information but you could think before you call about how you might describe your symptoms to a friend.
Reception teams are there to help you.