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Isaac

Brief Outline: Isaac rarely sees the GP. He recalled feeling ignored by doctors when he was a child because they would talk mostly to the adult he went with. Most recently he went because of a mole on his arm. The GP was reassuring and told Isaac that it needed to be removed in hospital as soon as possible. The procedure was fast and painless.
Background: Isaac is at college. He lives at home and helps cares for his mum. Ethnic background / nationality: White British.

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Isaac rarely sees the GP. He recalled feeling ignored by doctors when he was a child because they would talk mostly to the adult he went with. He was eight when he was diagnosed with hay fever, and recalled the GP talking to his grandmother even though he knew more about his symptoms. 

At the age of 15, Isaac had eczema. He’d had it for three weeks before seeing the GP. At the appointment he felt that the doctor was directing all the questions to his mum. He was prescribed some medication but felt that the GP hadn’t explained what eczema was or how the treatment worked. Isaac felt annoyed that, even at the age of 15, his ‘voice meant very little in an appointment’ that was about him. His experiences didn’t put him off seeing GPs, though, because he knew that doctors were there to help.

Isaac has been going to the same surgery for the last 10 years. He felt that there were big differences between doctors: some were kinder while others paid less attention to the patient. Although Isaac prefers seeing certain doctors, he wouldn’t turn down an appointment – if he’d like to be seen quickly, he feels that he can’t be picky.

Most recently Isaac had a mole on his arm. Although he’d had it for some time, it had started changing and growing. His mum made the appointment over the phone and Isaac went to see the doctor on his own. He felt slightly stressed at first. He had to check-in digitally and, although it turned out to be straightforward, Isaac felt he would have been less stressed if he’d known about it in advance. He also felt slightly stressed by a poster in the waiting room about moles and the risk of cancer. Isaac felt reassured after speaking to the doctor, though, who told him that it wasn’t serious but needed to be removed as soon as possible. Although he felt that the doctor only gave him ‘the facts’, his message was clear. Staff at the surgery called the hospital and Isaac got an appointment the same week. He found the procedure fast and painless. 

For Isaac, a good GP is attentive and talks to patients directly. He also prefers it when doctors engage with him and ask about him as a person. 
 

Isaac doesn’t like the digital check-in. The receptionists in his practice were ‘nice enough’ but it could be hard to get their attention.

Isaac doesn’t like the digital check-in. The receptionists in his practice were ‘nice enough’ but it could be hard to get their attention.

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Oh they have this annoying machine on the wall that’s like a self-check-in thing, and basically you need to use it unless you have a reason you can't use it, like arthritis or blindness or something you can't use the machine. But if you can, like me being seventeen at the time, you had to use the check-in machine and, oh god there was no-one even at the …no-one like…there was the person behind the counter but they didn’t have anyone with them, but they couldn’t see to me. I had to use the machine which, although I suppose is keeping up with the time it's…I hate machines. So yes they could…it was less person and friendly but fair enough they had to do it, but yeah.

Did you know that there would be this machine there, was that all changed since you last....

No [laughs], no, I went, I went to the counter; they said, "There's the machine, use the machine." You had to sort of use the machine.

How was the person at the counter, the receptionist?

They were nice enough I suppose. Just sort of looked up and sort of went, "Machine." And then sort of…a bit more information than, you know they said, "Well you have to check in with the machine now, we can't really do it." And then went back to whatever they were doing.

Would you say they were friendly and welcoming or were they just doing…?

They were doing their job. They were friendly enough I suppose. They didn’t ignore me and they didn’t have a really gruff, annoyed tone to their voice. So I suppose I can't really ask for much more, so yeah.

If they were gonna give any tips or advice to receptionists all over the country -

It would be pay less attention to probably whatever you're doing – probably your Sudoku – and pay attention to the person whose just come up to the counter before they have to like clear their throat or bang on the desk to try and get your attention. Pay more attention to your job which is to be at the counter.

Did you have to try and get her attention?

I had to do the pretend coughing, clear your throat thing, which I didn’t think I'd have to do but I had to do.
 

When Isaac went to see the GP on his own, aged 17, he realised he had little experience of talking to doctors. The GP was friendly. Isaac would go alone again.

When Isaac went to see the GP on his own, aged 17, he realised he had little experience of talking to doctors. The GP was friendly. Isaac would go alone again.

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This time you went on your own. Were you sixteen or seventeen, can you remember or?

Seventeen, I remember being seventeen, yes.

Was that the first time you'd been on your own?

Yes, it was, which was ever so slightly concerning, and I was obviously…although I was seventeen it was still, I’ve never really been here on my own, what do I say to the doctor. I realised I had little experience talking to the doctor due to my experience with them of once I was with a parent, they just ignored me and spoke to them. So, I…luckily once I went in, they were friendly, they were nice, they helped me. So, yeah, I realised it's not that bad, but yes....

So did you make that appointment yourself as well?

No, my…my mother made the appointment for me but could not go with me so I went on my own to have it seen to.

And when you knew you were going on your own, how did you feel about that?

I was slightly stressed at the time – I was going somewhere I'd never been on my own and it was …it was something more serious than like other places; it was a GP, it was …yeah so I was slightly stressed at the time going in, going up to the counter and all that. But once I was in there with the doctor and they were nice and speaking to me, it was alright after that. But it can be stressful, yes going to the doctors and such, yeah.

So that was your very first time.

Mm

Did you ever go back after that by yourself or with anybody else?

No, I didn’t really need to no, no.

Say you needed to go again; you’ve already been once by yourself.

Yeah.

Would it be a little bit easier now or?

It would be easier, it would be easier cos I know what to do, I know the procedure. It's quite easier now I'm a bit older and such, so I would have no problem making an appointment and going again on my own if I needed to, yes.
 

The GP told Isaac that the mole on his arm would have to be removed in hospital later that week. He phoned Isaac at home with the appointment details.

The GP told Isaac that the mole on his arm would have to be removed in hospital later that week. He phoned Isaac at home with the appointment details.

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He [GP] had a look at it and heard what I'd said, and to my stress said, "You're going to have to go to hospital and get that removed like almost immediately." And within the week I was in hospital having it removed, so I was. Yeah, immediately when he was like, "Oh you're going to have to go to hospital", I was like ah, so it's a bit more serious. He's like, "But you're fine, this is why we take you there, it's fine." But when you get told you need to go to hospital, you don’t immediately start going, "Oh, I'm fine, that’s yeah."

Could he have said that in a better way or were there not many ways to…?

There aren't many ways to say to someone you need to get something cut off your arm in a hospital. And I suppose you need to be told, and once you're told you just sort of have to deal with the slight stress it causes and get it done, yeah.

And did he say…give you much information…what is it, what's going on there?

He didn’t really. He just sort of said, "Well, you have got a mole that is slightly abnormal; you are going to have to have it removed; we will have to get you to a hospital." And that was really the information I had. But at the time I'm like, "OK so get it…get off…get it ridden…get rid of it," you know. At the time I didn’t really need more information than, "Right, when am I going?" like you know, because if it needs to go, let's get it done, that was more my frame of thinking than, yeah.

So you wanted to get rid of it and that’s what he said.

Yeah, once the doctor said, "Well it needs to go." I'm like, "Well, get it done then, it's…yeah."

Would you have liked any information or do you think he gave you enough?

I think he gave me enough and I suppose it…yeah I think the information I needed was given, and the facts were there that I had something, it wasn’t right, it needed to be gone. I'm quite a straight forward sort of person. It's like, well if it needs…this needs to happen, get it done, let's you know get it over with, that’s more of…yeah.

Did he say how long it would take? Did you know that it would happen that quickly, within the week?

No, they rang up my house a few hours later when I got home, and they stated that’s where my appointment was, that’s where I was to go, and yeah, so yeah.

So that was quite quick.

It was, yes.

Did you expect them to ring that day?

Considering the doctor's reaction to the mole, I was expecting it to be rather quick. I was expecting the reaction to be rather quick considering his reaction to seeing it and hearing what I said was rather quick of, "We're getting rid of that, you're going to hospital", so yeah.

Did that worry you at all or did you just think, well at least I'm getting it seen to or.....

At least I'm getting it seen to; at least it's going to be gone, it's not…and he did reassure me because I did mention seeing the poster in the waiting room. He did assure me, "You haven’t got cancer, it just needs to be gone to make sure nothing happens." So that was fine, yeah.
 

The GP was friendly and kind. When Isaac had been younger, he felt ‘they blank you and speak to the adult’.

The GP was friendly and kind. When Isaac had been younger, he felt ‘they blank you and speak to the adult’.

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They were friendly, they were nice, tried to make me stop looking so petrified in the fact I had a mole that needed medical attention as that can be slightly worrying. But, yes, they were kind. They were nice and…but that was when I was more sixteen/seventeen. I went in on my own and such so, with only me in the room, they spoke to me and such, and it was easier. They have very little…I don’t want to say respect for younger people, that’s the wrong word. It's when you are in a room with an adult as well, they blank you and speak to the adult. I don’t quite know the word for that but they do just sort of ignore you and speak to the adult yeah, yes so.
 

Some GPs Isaac saw were better than others. The good ones spoke to him and not to the computer screen.

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Some GPs Isaac saw were better than others. The good ones spoke to him and not to the computer screen.

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Some [GPs] were better than others. Some were kinder and more talking to you as a person, asking you questions. Some were more just get on the computer, don’t even look at you, just sort of ask questions to anyone in the room who will answer. And just type it all down and a bit like the one that just, "Well here's your prescription, go." So, yes the…I've seen a few different types of doctors, yes.

And if we were going to feed back to doctors from talking to young people, what qualities make a good doctor? What would you say are the things that make a good…?

Qualities to make a good doctor. Talking to a person rather than them just…I understand they see a lot of people but talking to them like they are people and there, and not just blankly asking questions and then typing and then, you know, I understand it's …there's a lot to do. But being talked to rather than just them talking to a computer screen and expecting answers, it is generally better, yeah.

And when you’ve seen the doctors, you said they didn’t really talk to you. Did they…?

No. Whenever I went with a parent, they always would just talk to my parent rather than me.

Did they ever ask you about you – how's school or anything like that?

A few did, which is the difference between the few doctors. Some of them would ask me questions such as that while waiting for something to happen, or a printer to work or something, they would ask questions. Some would just ignore me and hand me the thing when it had been done. But some of them did ask questions and were nice and started a conversation, yes.
 

Isaac felt that the GP ignored him and listened to his grandmother instead. She just repeated what he’d told the doctor.

Isaac felt that the GP ignored him and listened to his grandmother instead. She just repeated what he’d told the doctor.

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I remember one [GP] diagnosed me with hay fever which is a large inconvenience – hay fever's horrible. But I remember that one, they completely basically ignored me and listened to my grandmother. 

And the other one, which was a lot more recent actually, it was more of when I was fifteen, which is only a few years ago, that I had a …I was in because of my eczema. And even at fifteen I was basically being ignored in favour of them listening to my parents – at the time my mother came with me. So they listened to her on the latter and I was just there, so yeah, even at fifteen they basically blanked me out, so yes.

So if we go back to that appointment when you went with your grandma.

Yes.

That was about hay fever. Did they ask you anything at all like, you know, are you sneezing a lot, are your, you know, eyes itchy?

They asked me a few questions but I answered to the best of my abilities at eight. And they basically just looked at my Gran and she repeated basically what I'd said. But they listened to her and wanted her to speak as well. Even though she repeated what I said, they still wanted her to be the one saying it, which was yeah.

When you left that appointment, what did you think? Do you remember what you thought at that time when that appointment finished?

I can remember thinking I hope this goes away but also that I was slightly annoyed that they had not paid any attention on mine to what I'd been saying. 
 

Isaac felt annoyed and that the GP should have spoken directly to him, not to his mum.

Isaac felt annoyed and that the GP should have spoken directly to him, not to his mum.

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You went later because of eczema?

Yes, yes, at fifteen and they yep, big skin rash, really red, had to go into hospital for it once. They still just sort of listened to my mother and then gave me some prescriptions that they didn’t even bother telling me what was on it. They didn’t read the name of it. They didn’t…they just said, "Give this to the chemist and follow the instructions." No help really; they just sort of said, "Here's a prescription, go and get it." So yeah...

Did they say it's eczema?

They told me it was eczema, yeah, they did say that. At the time I didn’t really know what eczema was. I just knew I was itchy. But they didn’t really explain anything. They just sort of presumed I…they either assumed I knew what it was or just assumed my mother would explain it to me and I just sort of was told to…I could go, so yeah.

And leaving that appointment can you remember what you thought then and...

That one was a bit more annoyed in general at the whole thing that I was basically still being ignored at fifteen; that my voice meant very little to a doctor in an appointment that was for me, so yes.

How would that appointment have been better? What should have really happened do you think in your opinion?

The doctor should have asked his questions more direct – or she – at me rather than my parent who was with me at the time. Being spoken to directly other than through my parent would have been better; being taken more seriously – that in general really, just being taken more seriously in my own appointment would have been made it better, yes.
 

Isaac collects his repeat prescription from the chemist as well as his mum’s medications.

Isaac collects his repeat prescription from the chemist as well as his mum’s medications.

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Most our stuff's on repeat prescription so I don’t usually have to go to get a prescription or whatever, no.

Yeah. So, to get a repeat prescription, does your mum usually phone and then you go and collect the prescription or how do you…?

Usually, usually my mum phones. Recently I've had to say over the phone, "Yes, it's fine for my mum to call on my behalf” due to turning eighteen, which is fine because it's just how it has to be, and yeah. So, I…yeah she rings up, I say it's fine, she says, "Well he needs this and this; he's out of it". And I just go and collect it, that’s just yeah, we do that yeah.

That’s just like the routine.

Yeah, that’s the routine I've been used to, yeah.

So then you get a prescription. Is there a chemist or pharmacy next to you or?

Yes, there is one directly across from the doctors. There is also one further down where I live. So there are two quite close in walking distance. So the one across the road from the doctors is easy, it's just to get to so it is, yeah, they are quite close together and it's quite easy to get things.

Yeah. Do you ever go there to get the prescription, or mostly your mum does that?

No, my mum can't leave the house. She's usually bed-ridden from illness. So I'm usually the one getting stuff from the doctors – the prescriptions and the stuff we need and stuff, yeah.

So you go to the doctors, you pick it up at the reception?

Yeah.

And then you go to the…?

Yeah, then I just cross the road and go to the chemist, yeah.

Have they always been alright at the chemist?

Usually, yeah, they're fine. I've got the prescription, so I have that and I just give it to them and they give it to me. So yeah they're usually fine with me. They…yeah even when I was slightly…if I ever had to do it, they were fine with me, yeah.

So they never really asked questions, what…what's all this for or who's this for?

Yeah, they don’t ask. I just…so long as I answer the question, 'Where do you live?' it's fine. They always ask where the person lives that I'm picking it up for and then that’s it, they're fine with it, so I just go, yeah.
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