A-Z

Peter

Brief Outline: Annual check-ups are the main reason Peter goes to the GP, usually with his mum. He feels at ease with the two GPs he usually sees at the local surgery, and thinks that a good doctor is someone who is knowledgeable and able to make patients feel safe and relaxed.
Background: Peter is at school and lives with his parents and older sister. Ethnic background / nationality: White British.

More about me...

Going to see the doctor felt like a good break from the daily routine when Peter was a child. He recalled seeing a middle aged GP (local doctor), who he thought was nice and comforting. He was less keen on receptionists, though, and found that the small building the surgery was located in was lacking in facilities. Peter changed surgeries when he moved house at the age of ten. The new one felt cleaner, better equipped and more spacious. Peter also felt that getting appointments was quicker and easier. Despite the more modern facilities, though, he found seeing the doctor a bit stressful because he ‘worried about things that could go wrong’. 

Annual check-ups are the main reason Peter goes to the GP, usually with his mum who fills out the forms or provides the parental signature when necessary. Peter finds the doctors considerate in addressing him and his mum but feels that it could be good for young people to see the GP on their own sometimes, without parents.  He feels that it could be helpful if doctors occasionally asked parents to leave the room at the end of the consultation, allowing privacy for young people to discuss more sensitive topics, such as puberty.

Peter feels at ease with the two GPs he usually sees at the local surgery. For him, a good doctor is someone who is knowledgeable and able to make patients feel safe and relaxed. A doctor’s gender is unimportant, though Peter would feel more comfortable discussing certain problems with a male GP. Similarly, the doctor’s age is also irrelevant to Peter as long as they are qualified and confident. Young junior doctors and ‘very old’ GPs, though, sometimes give Peter the impression that they’re confused, which makes him want to ‘help them but can’t’. 

Peter has been to a walk-in centre twice when he found it difficult to get an appointment at his local surgery. His experiences were positive both times, though he thinks that the appointments were rushed because the doctor had lots of patients to see. Peter feels that ‘if you’ve gone there, out of your way, you feel that there's something wrong’ but very short consultations can make people ‘feel a bit discarded’.

Peter often looks up his symptoms on the Internet, mostly on the NHS website or Wikipedia, but finds face-to-face consultations more comforting. He also thinks it would be difficult to explain symptoms over the phone or in an email.  Peter likes the idea of being able to access his medical records online – he sees doctors writing a lot during consultations but thinks they rarely give sufficient explanation. 

Overall Peter was satisfied with local healthcare services but would like to be able to get appointments easier. He understands, though, that his surgery doesn’t have enough doctors. He also thinks that the reception is under-staffed, which is why receptionists sometimes give him the impression that they ‘don’t want you to be there’. A friendlier attitude would be helpful because ‘everyone who’s going there is normally quite nervous themselves’. 

Peter advised young people not to be nervous about visiting the GP, to ‘go there even if you think you don’t necessarily have to go there, just to make sure that everything’s OK’.
 

Peter finds the receptionists ‘quite harsh’ and doesn’t like speaking to them. Patients might be feeling nervous so receptionists should be friendly and helpful.

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Peter finds the receptionists ‘quite harsh’ and doesn’t like speaking to them. Patients might be feeling nervous so receptionists should be friendly and helpful.

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Have you spoken to any of the receptionists when you’ve gone with your mum or how's it been?

Yeah, I've spoken to them a few times and they're quite harsh and you don’t really want to speak to them. They almost push you out of the way and, if you're trying to arrange an appointment, then it can often be quite difficult because they're not particularly helpful because if you want to do an appointment then often it mucks up their timetable that they’ve put in. And so you don’t really enjoy speaking to them in that way. 

How could they be better? What would the ideal receptionist be like? So if they were going to improve on their services what would be the ideal receptionist?

Sort of just one that was more helpful and wants to be there because often they feel – you get the impression that they don’t really enjoy what they're doing. And so it's best if they …and I think often they might be under-staffed and so they're doing too much and they're quite stressed. And so they don’t want…you're intruding on what they're doing and so they don’t want you to be there.

Yeah. So, if you were going to give a message to receptionists cos they want to improve what they do, what message would you give to them?

Just to sort of be friendly because everyone who's going there is normally quite nervous themselves and so…or they're quite bored and they don’t want to be there. So just sort of not be so, so brisk and just push people away; just be sort of, you know, more helpful in that way.
 

It’s easier to speak to the GP on your own. Next time Peter might go by himself.

It’s easier to speak to the GP on your own. Next time Peter might go by himself.

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Now I'd probably go, still go with my mum, but I …that’s mainly only for the filling out of forms really and parental signature, so I'd almost prefer to go by myself if you see, but you still go with your parents I think.

What sort of forms has she had to fill in over the years?

Just the general, have your medical needs changed and any medication that you're taking, that kind of thing. And also for if you have to take a prescription and to sign for that, and just sort of all the general forms.

Well it's quite interesting that you mentioned in a way you wouldn’t mind going on your own, cos quite a few people do say something like that. What would be the advantages of going on your own?

I think it removes the awkwardness of your parents being there, especially if it's sort of something that you should have dealt with before and they’ve always been telling you to deal with it, or you haven’t been taking any medication that you should have been. And like it just removes that because it's just you and the doctor, and they're not there. 

But then it can be comforting for them to be there at times. But it's easier when it's just you and the doctor because you can speak about what's actually going on rather than sort of in a way dulling it down so your parents don’t get worried at all.

Yeah. So, have you actually ever been by yourself or not yet?

No, I haven’t been yet; haven't been for a while but, you know, I think if I had to go next time I might go on my own. Or you might do one of those, you know where you have your whole family go and you just go in one at a time so that they're in the waiting room waiting, but you're in the surgery on your own.

Have you had any appointments like that where the whole family has gone?

It's normally quite like that because it's easier to get a large booking rather than having to go one at a time each week or…it just disrupts everything less, so that’s the best way to do it normally.
 

Peter feels that GPs and the health service are ‘very good’, though they sometimes get bad publicity.

Peter feels that GPs and the health service are ‘very good’, though they sometimes get bad publicity.

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Is there anything else that you'd like to add at all, anything that I haven’t asked you about?

Just that I think that, in general, GPs are very good and the health service is very good, even though they sometimes, you feel that they get quite bad reports in like the papers and the media. I feel that it is better than they're often…than it feels that they are, you know, they…it gets…they get presented as being quite bad. But I think that they generally do a very good job really.
 

Both the GPs Peter usually sees put him at ease and make him feel that he’s ‘in safe hands’. The female GP is ‘a bit more motherly’. The male doctor is more brisk.

Both the GPs Peter usually sees put him at ease and make him feel that he’s ‘in safe hands’. The female GP is ‘a bit more motherly’. The male doctor is more brisk.

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Have you got one doctor or do you see lots of doctors?

I think it's a husband and wife who do it, so we normally …and they sort of share patients. And I've been to see both of them, and they're both very nice and you know. They put you quite at ease. I think the woman's quite, sort of a bit nicer, but they both sort of…you feel that they're definitely qualified and they know what they're doing when you're with them. And so that’s very reassuring when you're there sort of to feel…that it's all, you're in safe hands. And they're very nice, you know, they're, they do their job quite well.

Yeah. And you mentioned that the female doctor is a bit nicer than the male doctor. What's the difference; you know what makes her nicer?

I think she's almost a bit more motherly you know, sort of that kind of figure, and so you feel a bit…especially when you're younger, you feel a bit safer almost with her, whereas the man's slightly more, slightly more brisk. And so when you're older he's sort of…he's fine, but as a younger child you sometimes feel that the woman's a bit nice…you know you feel more comforted by her.

And do you usually see the female doctor or the male doctor or you’ve seen them about the same time?

I think we normally see the female one because I think she does more appointments I think than the man; I'm not sure why, I think…I think he only works some days, I don’t know why. But I have seen the man a few times.

And what would you say makes a good doctor because you’ve mentioned she's had some good qualities, and he's had some, but you know sometimes you’ve felt more comfortable with her – what qualities would you say make a good GP?

To be, to give the impression that they know what they're doing and you know, that you're in safe hands; to feel that they're definitely qualified because it's your health and you can be quite nervous. And also to, you know, just to feel that they’re doing something that they actually care about, why you’ve gone to see them. To give that impression, it helps you quite a bit. And to just sort of, you know, calm you down slightly you know and just make you feel that it's all fine, that kind of thing.
 

Peter preferred female GPs at a younger age but now prefers a male doctor. Once the appointment starts, though, it doesn’t usually matter.

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Peter preferred female GPs at a younger age but now prefers a male doctor. Once the appointment starts, though, it doesn’t usually matter.

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In terms of the doctor, you mentioned you’re…you usually see the female doctor. Do you have any preferences in terms of seeing a female or a male doctor, do you think it makes much difference or what are your main thoughts on that?

Sometimes it can…like now I'd probably prefer to see the male doctor because you can…you feel that you're speaking about…you understand the same things. But I think if it comes down to it, you don’t…it doesn’t make a huge difference, it's just pers…you know, when you're in there and especially if you're waiting just to see whose come in and it sort of puts you more at ease to have the male one personally. But once the appointment starts it doesn’t…like you get quite used to it I think.

Yeah. And you mentioned earlier that when you were younger, in a way you preferred the female one, but now that you're older you prefer seeing the male doctor?

Yeah, because you're more used to speaking out so you don’t feel as nervous I think, so you can say the things even if you're not quite so at ease. So in that way you don’t really need the motherly figure that sometimes the female, like, can give. But...and when you're older you prefer to have someone similar to you that you can speak to. 
 

The walk-in centre is further than the local surgery but Peter went there a couple of times because of an infection. The GP advised him to go to hospital.

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The walk-in centre is further than the local surgery but Peter went there a couple of times because of an infection. The GP advised him to go to hospital.

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How often would you say you go to see the doctor in a year say?

Apart from if there's anything sort of specific, maybe once a year or so, never much more unless something crops up and you have to go and see them.

And you mentioned a walk-in centre – is that part of the GP's surgery or?

No, there's a separate one down in [place name] I think that does the walk-in. I think it's made specifically for a walk-in clinic, or it might be a larger site. And that one's…it's just the one below A&E, and that one's also quite run down the whole centre. I think they might be refurbishing it, the whole thing. But it isn't…the way I remember it it's quite an old site, that one as well.

And you mentioned that you’ve been there a few times. Is it quite easy to get there, is it further than the doctor's surgery?

It's quite a bit further. You have to get the car down there and drive for a few minutes but it isn't too bad to get to, for me. For others in [place name], it's quite a while away but it isn't too bad.

Yeah. And did you go to the walk-in centre because the GPs’ surgery was closed, or you couldn’t get an appointment? Was there any real reason…you know, different reason that it's better to go there than to the GP's surgery, any particular…?

I think you need to go to the GP, you need to have an appointment I think, they don’t like you going unless you’ve got an appointment because they're normally fully booked out. And so, if you walk in there to ask for one, they normally will have you waiting for quite some time, and then they need to bunk everyone else on the timetable. So it's normally best to go to the walk-in because then you just have to wait for hopefully a shorter time and you don’t have to disrupt everyone else who's waiting.

So, a few times, can you remember how many times you might have gone to the walk-in centre?

I think I've been twice for the same…it was sort of like a viral infection I think; it was the same thing twice on two separate occasions. And I think it was…and then they just sent the, I think they sent us back onto the hospital to investigate it further after that.

Yeah. So you went into the walk-in centre and can you remember, when you’ve been there, have you had to wait a long time before you saw a doctor?

It was quite a long wait I think. It wasn’t too bad but you know you're quite…if you're there, you're normally quite nervous and you're waiting for something to happen, and so it feels quite a long time. But it wasn’t too bad, it was quite busy that day I think…I think it was the weekend.
 

The school nurse assumes you want to get out of lessons. Peter’s seen her for cuts and bruises.

The school nurse assumes you want to get out of lessons. Peter’s seen her for cuts and bruises.

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Here there's sort of a woman who works in the office who I think doubles up as the nurse. But I wouldn’t really go to her unless necessary really because she's working and then you come in and she can normally be quite annoyed with you. And you feel that she doesn’t want you to be there, especially since normally, like people might try and get out of lessons. And she just assumes that you're there with bad intentions even if you are feeling genuinely sick.

So is there any message you could give to school nurses in different schools, any, anything that…a message to make them, you know to improve?

Just to feel like, like just to be there a bit nice, you know a bit more welcoming for the people who are there, to make it all, you know to feel that you want to be there – that kind of thing. And to feel that you can go there if you feel ill rather than feeling that you couldn’t go there even if you wanted to.

Have you ever had…been to see her or not...?

I've been there a few times mainly for cuts and bruises and that kind of thing. And they just give you a plaster and tell you to go away normally. And then once I've had to wait there for a few minutes, and you sort of just sit there waiting whilst they get on with whatever they're doing in the office. So yeah you feel sometimes that you're just brushed aside and you're just waiting there.
 

Being in the same clinic as everyone else can help you feel independent. Peter feels that it’s good to be in the same situation as other people.

Being in the same clinic as everyone else can help you feel independent. Peter feels that it’s good to be in the same situation as other people.

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So if there was a clinic at the surgery that was just for young people, do you think that would be helpful or do you think it's not really necessary?

I think it wouldn’t be really necessary because you can feel that you're being singled out and other people, like it just alienates you from others. You want to be in the same clinic especially if you want to be more independent. You don’t want others to feel that others are sort of intruding on you and forcing you to do this or that, so it's good to be in the same situation as other people.
 

A face to face appointment feels more comforting. A telephone consultation feels like the GP’s ‘not really taking it as seriously’.

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A face to face appointment feels more comforting. A telephone consultation feels like the GP’s ‘not really taking it as seriously’.

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Have you ever spoken to a doctor over the phone – some people have what's called telephone consultations – have you ever had that?

I've never had that, no, myself. It sounds sort of more difficult to explain it because it's always difficult to put into words what you're feeling. It's easier to show normally, and also if it's something specific that you need to show them, then I think it'll be quite difficult to do that over the phone.

So most times you would prefer to see the doctor rather than speak to him over the phone about what might be wrong?

Yeah, and also it feels more comforting, you know, to be there rather than feeling that it's almost like they're doing it in…at their own home and they're not really taking it as seriously.
 

With online consultations, it would be hard to know who’s answering your questions and who can access the conversation. Peter prefers seeing his GP.

With online consultations, it would be hard to know who’s answering your questions and who can access the conversation. Peter prefers seeing his GP.

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I always would prefer to have a face to face meeting, but for something that’s a bit smaller for, you know, if you just want to check that everything's OK, then maybe, you know an online chat maybe…But you can often feel, you're not quite sure who you're speaking to, so you don’t feel as comfortable saying some things to them as you would in a face-to-face, in the consultation. Online you, you're never really sure who…well who can access what you're saying.  
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