Waiting rooms: we are on the same side

Everyone has a tale to tell about the frustrating hours sitting in doctors’ rooms. The most important point to remember is that we – patients, doctors and staff – are all on the same side! 

A possible cause of delays can be a newly diagnosed patient. At the Breast Care Centre, the patient will be booked an appointment within 48 hours to minimise the stress around their diagnosis. It is better to wait a couple of hours on the day of your first appointment than a few weeks for a consult, so patients and their families minds can be put at rest. Follow up patients also call us for “squeeze” in appointments, because they have to see the doctor today, as they are worried. How can we turn patients who are so stressed away?

I often think of my childhood in England, hiring a boat for a day at the lake. When your time was up, a bell would ring to tell you to bring the boat to shore. There isn’t a little bell to ring after fifteen minutes to say “time’s up” to a patient and their doctor, as each patient is allowed the time they need with their doctor and vice versa. Surgeons can also not always predict the length of any given surgery. Although theatre lists are carefully booked and planned, there can be delays with radiography, anesthetics, recovery etc. Every patient’s treatment is individualised. More often than not, patients can be getting stressful results and need extra time, as well as a lengthy explanation to process this information.

Neither doctors, nor staff, enjoy the delays and we wish there was a perfect solution. After thirty years I am unable to come up with an answer!

We are all so caught up in our busy lives that maybe it’s time to use these delays in a positive manner. Take a break from the rat race! While you are waiting, use the time to relax and think, have coffee, read a magazine or two, do a crossword, or knit a few lines for a charity.

Written by Julie Belloni

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