"Time to move into the 21st century and use email"

About: NHS Ayrshire & Arran

(as the patient),

I just spoke to my surgery, trying to send an email to my Doctor. I was informed, a little high handedly, that you have internal email but "We don't give this out to people". Not sure what the motivation for this was but, whatever it was, it was not a great impression.

Just a thought, and at the risk of being a little forward - do you not think it is time to move into the 21st Century? I was invited to post the article I would like my doctor to review, which is much more challenging than using the email.

Just a thought. I would be interested to hear the good Doctor's view on this! !

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Response from Derek Barron, Associate Nurse Director, Mental Health Services, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

picture of Derek Barron

jp largs, an excellent question.

At a personal level I agree with you, this is the 21st century and we should be able to communicate in a variety of way with all our healthcare practitioners. When I put my professional hat on, then unfortunately I see the current problem we have with using email as a direct communication method for the majority of our communications. Without wishing to make excuse, since I agree with your point, as the NHS we try to avoid having communications that are single person dependent I.e. if your doctor, or nurse was off on annual leave and no-one was reading your email there would be a potential for important clinically relevant information lying unread and not dealt with.

We are in the process of engaging digital systems to support communications, patient portals are available and being tested in some areas, although not read for roll out across all of Scotland or even Ayrshire.

Like you I share a hope that in the near future we will be able to use the current technology (and not even new anymore) to communicate more efficiently.

I'm sure Kate (our Patient Opinion co-ordinator) will pass your comments onto the area concerned regarding attitude, which I'm sorry to hear was your experience.

I hope the next time you ask a perfectly reasonable question, someone takes the time to explain the answer more fully.

Hopefully this response and explanation is helpful.

When the e-revolution comes, I'll be standing beside you.


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Update posted by jp largs (the patient)

Does the digital revolution also include not having high handed receptionists attempting to make me feel stupid! I get your point, although with my explanation, (that it was not urgent but that the article I was trying to get through was electronic and I wanted my doctor to look at it before my next appointment), was dismissed as if I was an eight year old!

I appreciate a few things: 1. the NHS does a great job, most of the time, with limited resources; 2. medical professionals do not need to be inundated with communications of a relatively unimportant nature; 3. communications of an important nature need to be fielded, even if the practitioner is not available.

But where in that set of really important parameters is there anything about trying to belittle someone who is actually trying to make the job of a doctor easier?

Perhaps some training is in order. But then, am I the only one of the opinion that there is a breed of 'customer service representatives, (for that is what they are), for whom there is immunity from any kind of scrutiny??

Response from Kate MacDonald, Business Manager, Nurse Directorate, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

picture of Kate MacDonald

Dear jp largs

I am Patient Opinion Coordinator for NHS Ayrshire and Arran and I have read your story with interest, as well as the response from my colleague Derek Barron.

I fully understand your frustration jp largs and I would like to send your posting onto your GP Surgery, for feedback. If you would be willing, could you please contact me by email kate.macdonald@aapct.scot.nhs.uk or by phone 01292 513607 and let me know what GP Surgery it is you are referring to? You do not need to give me your name, unless you would like to.

Thank you

Kind regards


Kate Macdonald

Patient Opinion Coordinator, NHS Ayrshire and Arran.

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Response from Derek Barron, Associate Nurse Director, Mental Health Services, NHS Ayrshire and Arran

picture of Derek Barron

Dear jp largs

I'm sorry if you think I missed the point of your comment. I agree with you that it is not acceptable to be made to feel the way you've described. Our organisational values are #safe #caring and #respectful. From your description you were not treated with respect and I'm sorry to hear that.

Following from Kate's comment it would be helpful if you felt able to contact her and then contact can be made directly with the surgery to provide feedback.

Hopefully future communications with you will be more respectful and helpful - as you rightly said, each one of us are customer service representatives to one degree or another.

Thank you for coming back to me with your comment, I hope my response acknowledges the point you made, a point I whole heartedly agree with.

Thank you.


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