Friday, October 31, 2008

Exceptional Customer Service

People often criticise the UK National Health Service (NHS) and if we believe (I don’t) what we read in right wing national newspapers, like the Daily Mail, the NHS is failing millions of us.

We seem to conveniently forget we have a universal health service in Britain available to all and free at the point of delivery regardless of our wealth status.

In the last year or so since we moved to our new village we have had a few occasions to make appointments for one or other members of our family to see a Doctor. Every time we have had a superb service without fail. Every time when medication is prescribed it is dispensed on site and we have walked away from the surgery with the medication. For a repeat prescription where the normal procedure is for patients to give 48 hours notice, we have twice asked whether a repeat prescription can be made up that day. No problem on both occasions, the surgery gladly obliged by leaving the medication at the shop opposite the surgery for collection the same afternoon.

This morning our daughter Lucy was feeling unwell and at 8.40 am I rang the surgery to see if she could be seen fairly quickly though it was not an emergency. The receptionist asked us to be there at 9.20 am to see the doctor.

Annie took Lucy to meet the doctor and he prescribed antibiotics for tonsillitis. The medication was dispensed on site and Annie was home with Lucy 55 minutes from the time I made the initial phone call at 8.40 am.

Now that’s what I call service!

So what is the point of telling this story?

1 We could not have had a better service if we had paid for it.

2 The NHS at its best is absolutely brilliant.

3 Exceptional Customer Service is what this is.

4 This story – the third of its kind in the year we have been here reminds me that we need to protect and preserve our NHS of which I am very proud


J.KANNAN said...

Dear Trevor,

It is really an exceptional customer care service on the part of NHS authorities. You may be aware of the fact that Medias blow out of proportion the facts and figures by focusing and zooming matters even beyond human comparison and imagination and attempts to make mountain out of a mole- and we just have to ignore this.

Yet I have points for clarification:-

1. Is this exceptional customer care service really applies to one and all approaching NHS?

2. Is it a special privilege extended to Mr. Trevor for having dedicated his sweat, blood and energy for the good cause of NHS for 35 long years of association with NHS, with splendid and dedicated performance?

Please don’t take it amiss for seeking genuine clarifications.


Trevor Gay said...


Two great questions.

The doctors surgery in my village have no idea that Trevor Gay I worked in the NHS for 35 years so I am ‘just another patient’ as far as they are concerned so I do not get preferential treatment for me or any members of my family.

I would not pretend this is necessarily the identical service received by everyone who is a customer of the NHS in Britain. This is exceptional service. Having said that I believe the NHS offers generally very good service – particularly in getting to see a doctor In Primary Care - and where it is not so good it is improving.

The Daily Mail is notorious for being anti the National Health Service and is a right wing paper more interested in promoting the type of politics that has got the world into the financial crisis it now faces. The Daily Mail is anti anything to do with the Labour Party and socialism and the great reforming Labour party of 1948 created the NHS.

J.KANNAN said...

Hi Trevor,
Thank you very much for your honest feed back. I am now clarified of my points.

Politics entering into the area of health care services organisation, hand in glove with media is indeed an alarming and dangerous situation and is as good as spreading contagious diseases amongst the people of UK. I only wish people of UK take note of this and be watchful and careful with media rumers and ignore such moves and be supportive to Health Care services organisations & supportive to them.


Trevor Gay said...

JK- I wish the media reported all the good things too that happen in the NHS - and there is plenty of that!

J.KANNAN said...

I too wish media reports matters of good happening around that will good for the people and the nation But unfortunately they think that's not their "cup of tea" or "bread and butter" but only negative aspects reporting and at times reporting good happenings in a negative manner. May be either they get better paid or can make use of their influence and support for their existence and survival by "Poltical Clowns" to do so. People can in a way boycot such print media by not buying such kind of news papers.

May good sense prevail upon , in such media people!!!!


Trevor Gay said...

JK - It seems good news is not profitable news :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info, Trevor. Over here in America, we wonder if you are happy with your choice. Some people over here are trying to make us believe that it would be the worst thing that could ever happen to us!

JOHN O'LEARY said...

Ditto, Marianne. In Boston it takes me about 3 months to see my primary doctor or any specialist he refers me to. And mandatory health insurance in Massachusetts costs me a small fortune.

David Wike said...

Hello America!

As Trevor will know, I am a fierce critic of some aspects of the NHS but, like democracy, while it may not be perfect, there isn’t a better solution. The NHS was born at about the same time that I appeared in the world. I am sure that there were many who worried that it was the end of civilisation as it was then known. But sometimes you have to take that leap of faith and make changes.

Tomorrow you have the choice: stick with the old, failed ways of doing things or take that leap of faith. I hope that you all make the right decision.

Anonymous said...

Trevor refers to the surgery in his village and this may be the key.

The surgery in my village, along with some other smaller locations, was shut a couple of years ago and "amalgamated" with one in the local town. This is part of the Great Reforming Labour Party's fondness for super-surgeries. If I rang up my doctor* at 8:40 I can guarantee that all the bookings for that would be taken, including the supposed emergency slots they're supposed to keep open; I'd be lucky to get an appointment for the next day. At the moment, in our village the average is about 3 days to get an appointment.

* My doctor (1): ha ha; no such thing! In a super-surgery you see whichever doctor is available. Continuity of care? Only if the notes are any good and the doctors agree on the diagnosis and best treatment.

* My doctor (2): in the surgery where my wife works, the prescribed doctor / patient ratio gives them a theoretical patient list of 12,000. After running at over 14,000 for the last 2 years, the local authority has told them to take on another 1000 patients with no additional funding for resources.

Dispensing pharmacies: well, I understand the convenience but here's the rub. The surgery provides this service because it's high margin. But because the're doing it, your local village chemist will see a dramatic reduction in business and many are going bust. So all the other things you buy at the chemist aren't available, all the advice you get at the local chemist isn't available and when you do want medicines, including over the counter ones, you'll only be able to get them at the convenience of your doctor's opening hours.

And is it cheap? There's a compulsory National Insurance payment of 11% of your wages up to £770 per week (i.e. up to £40k when average household income is £30k). Then you pay 1% on every £ earned above £770.

I'm glad Trevor's family are getting good service from their local village surgery but don't be fooled. From where I sit, it's very much the exception and far from the rule.

JOHN O'LEARY said...

I wish I were able to compare the two systems firsthand. Maybe it's a grass-is-greener-over-yonder phenomenon but a lot us in the States are looking for alternatives.

David, I've lived through MANY things that apparently ended western civilization as we knew it (including rock & roll, which was once considered a disease). To top it off, I'm voting tomorrow for the tall, black fella with subversive friends. (Hey what's NOT to like about someone who's called a Commie-terrorist-Muslim-Antichrist?)

David Wike said...


As a rock and roller you may be interested to know that we spent a couple of days in Liverpool last week. It is many years since I visited the city centre and I was amazed by how it has developed since I was there last.

We didn’t visit the Beatles exhibition or the Cavern but did have our fill of culture, including a visit to the Liverpool Football Club shop. I nearly bought a postcard of the Liverpool team to send to Trevor but I thought that he is having a hard enough time this season with his own team without upsetting him more.

And despite Trevor’s frequent poor taste and libellous jokes about the wonderful city and people of Liverpool, it feels like a safe place to be and my car still had all its wheels when we left.

One aspect of our cultural weekend was a visit to Crosby beach a few miles north of the city to see Anthony Gormley's ‘Another Place’. It consists of 100 cast-iron, life-size figures spread out along three kilometres of the foreshore, stretching almost one kilometre out to sea.

The figures are made from casts of the artist's own body and look out to sea, staring at the horizon. They symbolise the sadness at leaving, but the hope of a new future in another place. Of course, many of settlers in the States set out from Liverpool originally.

I know that I have strayed from the original topic, but wherever we went we had excellent customer service from lovely people in a fabulous city.

JOHN O'LEARY said...

David, I loved my visits to Liverpool in 2001 and 2002 which included tours of the (remodeled) Cavern Club, the 4 lads' childhood neighborhoods, the schools they attended, and the Casbah Club in the basement of Pete Best's old homestead! (That's a MUST see.) I LOVE Liverpool and I hear it's made great strides in recent years. My Tom Peters Company UK mates have done some consulting there and tell me all about it. I hear there's even a Beatles hotel there now (I forget the name of it). Can't wait to return, for an extended visit. It's my musical Mecca. I was surprised to discover (though I should have guessed) how Irish it is.

Trevor Gay said...

WOW! - a lot of comments for me to catch up on after 24 hours away in wildest East Anglia – my wonderful home region and thanks all as always for your excellent contributions. Just a few quick reactions from me:

Marianne – I know the healthcare system in the US is under the microscope like it is over here. I have always said our NHS system is far from perfect but I am very proud of the principles of the NHS. I am sure a universal healthcare system could work in the US but politically I fear it will never get enough support.

John – thank you for arguing MY CASE so well as to why we should fight tooth and nail to protect our NHS – (“In Boston it takes me about 3 months to see my primary doctor or any specialist he refers me to. And mandatory health insurance in Massachusetts costs me a small fortune”)

David – I am a fierce critic too of the NHS when it does not work but I am also a passionate advocate of it because the NHS provides a universal system free at the point of delivery regardless of wealth status. This is a principle worth fighting for.

Mark – you are right - it makes a difference if the surgery is small and there is plenty of evidence to support the ‘small is beautiful’ argument. I am not personally convinced the creation of larger surgeries is necessarily the best way forward. We don’t have a chemist in our village so there is no competition to go out of business.

I would love to have long debate with all my Blogging friends about the merits of the NHS versus a private healthcare system so that we can air our views more fully than space and time allows in these brief exchanges.

As regards the ‘love-in for Liverpool’ between John and David I concur entirely with the view about the terrific music that has come out of that great City. I even had my Beatle hat as an 11 year old John Lennon fanatic! Lennon remains one of my great working class heroes.

And John - on the US Presidential election - if I had a vote it would go the Mr Obama because I believe he offers the world hope ...... and we need hope so deperately right now.