How to get the best out of your GP surgery

Burngreave surgery team

Interview with Dr Charlotte Bryson by Dianne Hancock. Photo by Charlotte Bryson

At some time in our lives, we all need to visit the doctor, but over the last 20 months, that has seemed even more problematic than usual. As patients, we might feel frustrated at the delays to seeing a doctor, but what is it like from the medical practitioners’ point of view? I met Dr Charlotte Bryson, one of the GP partners at Burngreave surgery to discuss this.

Dr Bryson: Choosing to be a GP is choosing to be part of a community and traditionally, the local doctor was an integral part of the community, much more so than working in a hospital One of the reasons I like working in Burngreave is that many of my patients have had great challenges and are real survivors; often this has given them a perspective on the human experience.

The NHS works best when we all see each other as human beings. It is important to remember that doctors are human beings and not machines! We’ve got loads of experience and want to help people. However, at Burngreave Surgery, we are a very small GP team that works 11-12 hours a day. I work 3 days a week which adds up to 40 hours, There’s always a lot of paperwork as well as patients to see. GPs make quick expert decisions all the time; that takes a lot of brainpower and energy. I’m not afraid to say that I often feel very tired and struggle with the workload and I think it’s true for many of my colleagues – not just the GPs. Healthcare is about teamwork and our receptionists, nurses and support staff are all there for the patients.

Sadly, there have been some really unhelpful articles in the media about GPs being lazy and uncaring, that they should be doing more for their patients. It’s incredibly demoralizing and damaging to that important trust between patients and GPs.

There is a chronic shortage of trained GPs and so we’d appreciate any support Burngreave people could give by supporting any calls for more resources in primary care or in general practice.

Burngreave surgery team

How to get the best from your GP surgery

  • Please be respectful and patient. If a patient is very angry or aggressive, it’s very difficult to think straight and to make a good decision.
  • Be realistic about what can be achieved in one conversation, it might take a few appointments to sort something out. Before your appointment, write down your main concerns so we can focus on the priorities – that helps both of us. Please accept that some things are very difficult to fix quickly.
  • At the moment, we don’t have accurate appointment times, that’s because we have to prioritise the daily list, every case is important but if someone is in a crisis, we must deal with them first. Also, phone work is tricky when there are language barriers or hearing impairment and you can’t see the patient. Even a fairly straightforward consultation with the help of an interpreter can last 20 minutes or so.
  • If you need the doctor to ring you at a specific time, please let Reception know and they can make a note of this.
  • If you have a telephone appointment, make sure that you’re accessible and somewhere where you can concentrate on the call. It’s really hard to have a meaningful discussion if someone is in the middle of a shop or driving.

For more information on the issues discussed in this article, please go to: