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Ish

Brief Outline: Ish moved to the UK in 2011 and has seen his GP for minor health problems and acne. He found it hard to find a doctor that was right for him and used the internet to read online reviews about GP surgeries. He has a good relationship with his pharmacist and has had positive experiences of sexual health clinics.
Background: Ish is a sales advisor and lives on his own. Ethnic background / nationality: White Hungarian.

More about me...

Ish grew up in the United States. Since moving to the UK in 2011 he has found registering with a GP (local doctor) an easy process. He has seen the GP for dental issues, acne and several minor health problems. 

Ish believes that it is hard to find the right doctor, one that he feels really cares about their patients. He went to three or four local surgeries before he found one he felt comfortable with. Before choosing a GP, Ish likes to use the internet to read online reviews.

It has been hard for Ish to take time off work to attend appointments when surgery opening hours clash with his work schedule. He would like GPs to understand that taking time off work has important financial implications for young people as many of them can’t afford to come back for another appointment. Ish feels that doctors’ surgeries should have longer opening hours than they currently do. He would also like it if GPs would take young people more seriously. He finds it frustrating seeing a different doctor every time he makes an appointment – he would like it if he could develop a relationship with a GP but getting an appointment with the same one has been difficult. 

For Ish, the surgery environment is important and he would like it if the waiting rooms where more welcoming to young people, which he feels would help them take their mind off being ill. Ish has found that getting an appointment with a doctor usually takes two or three weeks and that appointments consistently run late. 

Ish has developed a very good relationship with his pharmacist, who he feels cares about him more than doctors do. He sees the same person every time and feels they are very approachable and welcoming. He has also had good experiences of sexual health clinics, where he feels that staff are welcoming, understanding, and work around his schedule to get him a quick appointment. He chose a sexual health clinic based on advice from friends.

Ish advises young people not to settle for a GP or sexual health clinic they are unhappy with, and that they should keep searching until they find one that suits their needs.
 

Ish prefers the customer service at the pharmacy to that at the GP surgery. The pharmacist remembers him and asks how he is.

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Ish prefers the customer service at the pharmacy to that at the GP surgery. The pharmacist remembers him and asks how he is.

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And about your prescriptions, medication or any medication, where do you normally go? Do you go to the pharmacist or?

Yeah, just the pharmacist, you know like in Boots or something like that. So I mean, which is kind of weird because the people at the pharmacy care more about you than your own doctor. So they’re actually nice about it. So when you go there they are actually nice and welcoming. So that’s a little bit weird.

Mm. That’s interesting. Can you tell me a little bit more why you think, why you think that’s weird and why you think they’re nicer and how they’re nicer?

I don’t know. It’s just like, they do try to give you your prescription as soon as possible. I go to the same person so she knows who I am. Exactly if every time I had to go for antibiotics now or something like that, she always remembered me. So she’s giving me customer service that for, example at a GP, you would expect from a receptionist. Because I’m sorry, I’m pretty sure in Boots, the pharmacist sees as much as people you do, you know what I mean and not even like with that serious problems. It’s like having a migraine and they ask for a medicine. So they’re giving a lot better customer service than your local GP. So that’s a little bit frustrating on some level. 

So is it always the same pharmacist that you try and see?

Yeah.

And you have a, you’ve got a relationship with him or her?

Yeah I guess so. She’s really nice. So I just try and talk to her. So even if she’s not serving me, she just says, “Hi, how have you been? I haven’t seen you for a while, you know.” So she actually remembers. Maybe she doesn’t remember my name but she remembers my face. So that’s a lot better.

Yeah, sounds like you’ve got a great experience with that one. Have you ever been to see any other pharmacist? And have you had, what kind of experiences have you had?

I haven’t really been because ever since I went to her, it’s like she’s been really nice. So I try to stick with the same people if I find someone that’s good. So I’m just like, you know, it’s not even worth trying it. 
 

Ish wished he could get a refund every time an acne cream didn’t work. It got expensive over the years trying so many different treatments.

Ish wished he could get a refund every time an acne cream didn’t work. It got expensive over the years trying so many different treatments.

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So every time basically when I was going for my acne problem, it was every time, like, “Oh if it come backs or if it gets worse, just come back.” So it was never a definite answer and wasn’t like, “Oh, we’ll refund you or something like that.” Like, “It didn’t work. I’m sorry about it. Let’s try something else.” It was just like, “Oh, here try this. Here, try this.” So every single time it was just like, “Here, try this.” 

And going, I guess it was, at that time, it was more frustrating to my mum than me because it was her money and everything so she had to pay for it. So it was probably a little bit annoying that she was spending like so much money, like a hundred, hundred dollars on it every single months or every single like two months, just to get new creams. 

I do remember in our little cabinet, like if you opened it, there was a bunch of little creams. That was funny though, in the end of it. So…

Yes, it sounds like it has important financial implications having to pay for things and if they don’t work.... 

Exactly, so just paying for it when it doesn’t really work. Like I’m sorry, you know even Argos gives you your money back and even Primark gives you your money back if something doesn’t work out for you, or like it breaks. So it’s not working. If you’re going to get a hoover and it’s not working they’re not going to be like, “Here, buy a new hoover, like, we’re not giving you your money back.” You know, and we’re talking about people’s health and wellbeing. So there’s, it really seems like they don’t really care about that part of it. If you want to be, if you want to be acne free or you don’t want to be sick, there, pay money for it.
 

Ish’s acne was ‘serious’ from the age of around 14 to 20. Stress at school made it worse. He tried several shop bought creams and lotions before he went to the GP.

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Ish’s acne was ‘serious’ from the age of around 14 to 20. Stress at school made it worse. He tried several shop bought creams and lotions before he went to the GP.

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Can I ask you about when the first time was when you went to see a doctor about acne?

Mm. I think it was around when I was like thirteen, fourteen. So around then and it was continuous ’til I was about twenty. So nineteen, twenty, ’till it was actually still serious. I’m guessing I was more stressed about high school. That just put a lot onto it and made my acne even worse. That was the most time that I always went to the doctors about it. 

Nowadays it’s mostly likely under control unless there’s like huge amount of stress, then one or two still comes out. But now I can deal with it, you know, so... But you know it’s still took eight, nine years of experience finding out what are the things that are like making it worse.

Mm. And before you first went to the doctor, did you sort of try over the counter shop bought treatments or face washes or moisturisers and things?

Yeah, I did try several ones, like I did try the ones that would work for my mum, for example. But because she has a different skin tone, for me, some of it just made it worse. So then I was just like, “Yeah, I give up, let’s just go to the doctor and get it checked out. It’s a lot easier.”
 

Ish felt embarrassed about his acne as a teenager so the relationship with the GP was very important. Fitting in with friends is important at that young age.

Ish felt embarrassed about his acne as a teenager so the relationship with the GP was very important. Fitting in with friends is important at that young age.

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I mean to be honest, especially during that age, I don’t think anyone’s going to talk to it, talk about it. That’s why it’s so important, as I said like, finding the right doctors who make you feel welcome and open about this subject ’cos you’re not really going to start talking to your friends about these kinds of things during that age. It just makes you feel awkward a little bit and you’re embarrassed about it. 

I mean later on like, I know it’s a cliché, but when you grow up a little bit more you have more experience, you will know that your friends went through it and it’s a little bit easier to talk about it. And it’s like, “Yeah, I used this and I used that and it worked perfectly, you know.” It’s more of an open subject. 

But when you’re twelve, thirteen, fourteen, it’s like you’re not going to talk about it. You have enough stress on you as it is fitting into a social group at school and everything. You don’t want to be known as the person, “Oh yeah, that’s the kid with the worst acne in the school, you know and he evens talks about it.” So you don’t, you try to avoid that [laughs].
 

Ish read reviews online before deciding which surgery to register with. He found it frustrating finding a GP he liked and changed a few times.

Ish read reviews online before deciding which surgery to register with. He found it frustrating finding a GP he liked and changed a few times.

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So basically, so when I try to go to a new doctor I always tend to google it up, like who’s around my area? And I look at the reviews now. So I think that’s one thing that the doctors and GPs are forgetting nowadays that social media and everything is really key in people these days, so... So we will google it. Go online. Try to find reviews about it. If it’s a good review then you’re going to go there. 

I mean, yeah of course, occasionally every place has one bad one. But like, I’m going to try and go to the place where there are most good reviewers and just when I get there, I mean yeah there were times when that doctor wasn’t good for me and I really don’t know why. It was just, I think you need to also have a connection with your own doctor now, as in making you feel welcome. If I don’t feel welcome or if I feel rushed, I just straight up go to someone else. 

It’s just finding the right doctor that’s a little bit frustrating, because you do have your local doctor, but if the doctor is not treating you the way you want to be treated, you, I just think you just have to like just keep searching. And you’re just like on the website, Googling up, who’s a good doctor and everything and that’s a little bit frustrating in my eyes, to me. I mean I went to about like three, four GPS before I actually settled on one that I’m like, ‘Okay, I actually like this person.’ So that part to me is like really frustrating.
 

It’s hard to switch shifts with people at work because of a doctor’s appointment. It would be easier if surgeries stayed open until 7 or 8pm.

It’s hard to switch shifts with people at work because of a doctor’s appointment. It would be easier if surgeries stayed open until 7 or 8pm.

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If I would have to go and see a GP, I would have to look at my own schedule first to see when I’m off or when I have time because when I’m at work, most of the time I work from eight till five or six. So that’s totally out of their range most of the times. I have to see when I’m off. Then I have to call them to see if they have a free time slot. If they don’t, then I have to basically just go into my office and just like try to find a time slot where I can switch with someone. 

I might not be able to switch, just cos of these things cos they have their own personal life too. So they might not want to switch. So it’s just like you’re sacrificing a lot of your own time also and you’re, if you’re going to be doing this every two weeks at your work, they’re not really going to look at it as like, ‘Oh, you’re really reliable.’ Like, you can’t even go to the doctor or something like that. 

It’s just like, I don’t know it seems a little bit awkward every time something’s wrong you have to go in and just like move everything around. It just gets frustrating.

Mm. Yeah. So what are the opening hours like at your local GP?

I think it’s from eight till five, yeah. It’s eight till five.

And what do you think about those opening hours?

Well to be honest, like I don’t think a lot of people are going to go in. So they should have more doctors covering so they can stay open later a little bit. 

Not a lot of people are going to go in. Most of the people that are going to go in during like twelve o’clock, probably going to be little kids and moms. So they should seriously think about just moving the time slot a little bit, to like, seven or eight o’clock. You know, that’s a little bit more flexible for everyone I think.
 

Appointments usually run late so Ish turns up 10 minutes late. He missed an appointment once. The next one was 2 weeks later.

Appointments usually run late so Ish turns up 10 minutes late. He missed an appointment once. The next one was 2 weeks later.

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I kind of realised that their schedule kind of works like mine is. So when they say three o’clock, I just show up at 3.15 to be honest. Then I have to wait about another ten minutes. So if you wait about twenty, thirty minutes, that’s the normal thing I guess. So now I just show up late because I know that’s going to happen every time. So it became that predictable that you’re gonna have to wait no matter what.

Has it ever been a problem that you showed up late? Have you ever missed an appointment? 

Yeah, I did. Then they just like straight up told me. I was, I think I was one or two minutes late and they said, “Oh, we gave your slot to someone else. You should have been here five minutes before.” And why should I be there five minutes before if you’re late all of the time? It’s like once in a while you’re actually on time. Like, congratulations, do you want a cookie for it or something. So, yeah.

So what happened then? Did you get rescheduled for another appointment?

I did, but I think it was two weeks away from the original one. So they’re not going to make it as soon as possible and put you like, you know, like it’s London and you missed the tube or something like that. No, it’s just, “Yeah, you missed it. Well sucks to you. Here, you’ll get an appointment in two or three weeks and that’s it. You’re just going to have to deal with it.” 
 

It can be frustrating working with people but receptionists and other customer service staff shouldn’t show it. It’s better to be ‘nicer’ even if it’s a bad day.

It can be frustrating working with people but receptionists and other customer service staff shouldn’t show it. It’s better to be ‘nicer’ even if it’s a bad day.

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Is the receptionist the first person you speak to? Do you have to check in?

Ah yeah, when you go in, she’s the first person I have to speak to every time. So, yeah.

And what was that like? Were they friendly? Were they approachable?

I really think, I mean I can’t really say anything bad about them because they are like customer service on some level. And just based on my own work I know that you tend to get a little frustrated after a while. But you shouldn’t be really showing it. So they try to be nice. But sometimes it’s really like you can tell they’re just like, “Get out of here.” Basically, that attitude. So that’s a little bit bad.

So how could your experiences with the receptionist be improved? If you could say something to them now, what would you say?

Try to be a little bit nicer. We all have bad days. We all deal with people. I deal with customers, angry customers too, all the time. Just don’t look at that side of it. So cheering up people is a lot better and you’re helping people. So that’s worth it and then you should just think about that. You’re always going to have rude people in your life to deal with. Just get over it. 
 

People who have a good relationship with their GP are more likely to be honest about embarrassing problems. GPs should only progress if they give helpful advice.

People who have a good relationship with their GP are more likely to be honest about embarrassing problems. GPs should only progress if they give helpful advice.

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So to me, if you’re open to me and you’re doing your job or maybe putting a little effort into it, then yes, I will open up to everyone and I will ask them. And just as an advice, your patient is more likely to tell them what exactly is going on, even if it’s something embarrassing or anything like that, if you actually have a connection with them. And then you’re actually doing your job correctly ‘cos if they’re going to give you mis-, you know like misinformation about what’s going on and they’re just going to say the basic, “You’re, yeah, the patient should know that they should be honest.” 

But you know what I mean, if they’re embarrassed about it, like I don’t know, if someone’s embarrassed about the fact that they’re stomach’s constantly hurting or just, you know, doesn’t want to seem so called weak, they’re going to lie about it and they’re going to be like, “Yeah, the pain is just like, whatever. I can deal with it.” 

But if you have a good relationship with your doctor you’re going to be like, “Yeah, it hurts so much I want to cry every single day.” You know, so to me that’s like, where a good relationship comes in, like you’re going to be honest if you have a good relationship with your doctor.

Mm. Yeah, absolutely.

I mean…..

Sorry, go on.

I mean, what I feel like just the whole system is like a little bit messed up, like most of the places that you’ve worked at, like throughout your life it’s all about what other people, you know, other people’s review about your career and how you do your job. [coughs] Sorry. I just feel like.

Do you want to stop?

Yeah, I have my tea. 

If you want a break, just let us know.

Yeah, that’s the thing that how I feel like, I feel like the doctors are being kind of left out of that. I don’t think they should be able to, you know, advance on some level at their work unless they’re actually giving good service.
 

To Ish, female GPs come across as more caring than male GPs. It’s important to ask questions in a caring rather than hurried way.

To Ish, female GPs come across as more caring than male GPs. It’s important to ask questions in a caring rather than hurried way.

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Did the gender of the doctor ever make any difference for you, whether they were male or female?

To be honest, for some reason I feel, probably because of my own sexual orientation, I feel more welcomed about females. They seem a little bit more caring. But I don’t know, I feel like male doctors try to rush it through as in like, “Let’s get in. Let’s do it. Let’s move on.” Female doctors will tend, like most likely tend to like put their heart behind it. So I prefer female doctors a 100 percent, like in any area whatsoever in my life ’cos they make me feel more welcomed and it seems like they actually look like they care about what’s going on instead of like rushing through it. 

So what could male doctors do better?

I’m not saying that the male doctors should be, you know, like being all over the emotion and giving me a teddy bear I go, every time I go. I’m just saying that this isn’t really like a boot camp. Like, we’re not in the army. And you just saying, “What’s wrong with you?” First of all, that’s not really how you speak to people, like actually you take your time. “Hi, how are you doing?” It’s not a hard word, not a bad phrase. You show you care a little bit. That’s it. 

You know, just rushing through it, like, “What’s your symptoms?” “Why are you here?” “When did it start?” To me, that’s just like, you’re not really caring about what’s going on with me. You’re just telling me the basic things that you’re supposed to ask. So there’s nothing behind it whatsoever. So to me, it’s not really caring at all.
 

Staff at the sexual health clinic were very welcoming and understanding. Ish’s friends had been there before and recommended it.

Staff at the sexual health clinic were very welcoming and understanding. Ish’s friends had been there before and recommended it.

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To be honest, in [place name] I only used one [sexual health clinic] and for me, those are very, very welcoming and a lot understanding. I mean, they know that the situation, like even if you just go for a regular STD test, they don’t know that when you walk through the door. So they will treat you as welcoming and they do treat you with a lot of understanding that you might be coming here with something that’s really embarrassing for you. So no matter what, they always treat everyone the same. In my eyes, that’s what I experience. So I had friends who went to that same place and they all said great things about it. So every time something happened, you know….

Is it common for you to ask your friends for advice on what places to go to, whether it’s GP or sexual health centres, anything?

Yeah, definitely. I do tend to ask them, the first people, especially my friends that I trust. It’s like, I try to go to the same place that they already went and they had a good experience. Yeah, I will go to the same one probably.

And the receptionist in there, how have your experiences with the receptionist been? I assume you typically have to check in with the receptionist first. 

Yeah, I mean the same thing. They’re still welcoming and nice no matter what the situation is.
 

Ish doesn’t find GP surgeries welcoming. He feels they should be brightened up, have up-to-date magazines, and some pictures on the walls.

Ish doesn’t find GP surgeries welcoming. He feels they should be brightened up, have up-to-date magazines, and some pictures on the walls.

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This is going to be a bad comparison, but it can use a little upgrade sometimes to make it a little bit more welcoming. I mean just since I went to a lot of doctors in America also, I know they try to make it more welcoming. And here if you go and it’s like, you know you’re at a doctor’s place. 

And no matter how we look at it in our mind, when we go to the doctors, we just keep thinking, ‘Oh, this is probably something bad.’ Like it’s probably nothing in the end, but you’re thinking of the worst and that place is not really helping you take your mind off of it. It’s like, okay, it’s cold. The chairs are uncomfortable. It’s like they probably got it from a garage sale or something like that. It’s just, I don’t know, it’s not welcoming at all. 

So having those posters up on the wall, as in like lung cancer and that and that. Yeah, have pamphlets on the table, so if someone wants to read it, read it. But like really on the wall too? A huge poster covering the whole wall that you’re going to die from cancer. That’s not really helping anyone. So, yeah, just try to use a little colour and your imagination to brighten it up a little bit, and yeah.

So if I said to you right now, like you’ve got a blank canvas and you could design the waiting room however you want, how would you design it and how would you make it inclusive for young people, to make young people feel comfortable.

Probably, actually having magazines that are up to date. That’s a good thing. Most people are interested. Having a variety of them helps a lot and just putting posters up, even if you get posters, like pictures. Like, you don’t have to go all out. I mean, I understand there’s a budget for every company. But still, just having a poster would be a lot better than having a poster of like dying from, you know, lung cancer or something like that. To me, that’s a little bit extreme. So have the pamphlets there. You know, put in like actually chairs, actual chairs. If you go to IKEA, it’s not that expensive. So yeah, make it a little bit less stressful and cold. 
 

It can be hard to attend appointments or have telephone consultations when you’re at work. Emails are easier and you can look at them when you have time.

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It can be hard to attend appointments or have telephone consultations when you’re at work. Emails are easier and you can look at them when you have time.

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Would you like to reach your GP by email? Do you think that would be helpful?

Yeah, I think that would be helpful. That makes it a lot easier, especially if you’re someone who’s, if someone’s working, it’s a little bit hard to be available, to be over the phone, you know, all the time.  

It’s more of a, first of all, you don’t want it on your voicemail. Second of all, it’s a lot better if you just like have an email and it’s just waiting for you. And it’s right there in front of you and just like if you’re working, it’s kind of hard to schedule in a conference call with your doctor basically. They’re going to miss you. You’re going to miss them. At the same time they’re going to call at the same time and all that kind of stuff. So just like being reachable over email helps a lot. 
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