"Crazy questions about my child's race"

About: Bolton PCT / GP Out of Hours Service

(as a relative),

When ringing to see the doctor with my 1 year old, I was asked what her first language is. When I pointed out that my child cannot speak yet, the operator got annoyed and insisted I tell her what language she would speak when she learns.

I was then asked my child's race, (which quite frankly I feel is a racist question in the first place). Where someones family originates is no concern of anyone. It should not be a requirement to divulge this when seeking treatment on the NHS. Again the operator seemed angry when I answered mixed race to this unreasonable question.

May I suggest you modify your call center software so it can handle babies or people who cannot speak or communicate, I would dread to think how you handle someone who is deaf and dumb.

May I also be as bold to put forward the idea of training your staff so they can cope when a call does not conform precisely with your script! Then perhaps you would not have angry staff speaking to people trying to seek medical attention.

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Response from NHS Bolton

I am very sorry that you feel that you received less than polite treatment from our call handling service when you contacted our GP Out of Hours service. We have fed your comments back to the managers of this service, which is delivered off-site. They were very apologetic for the manner of their member of staff and have used the example of your call to support the further education and training of their staff.

Regarding the issue of our requiring information about ethnicity. It is a national NHS requirement that we ascertain the ethnic origins of our patients. This is to ensure that we respect cultural diversity and helps us to plan for the needs of the users of individual services.

I agree that to ask the language spoken by a toddler seems completely unnecessary and I am grateful for your feedback which has enabled us to discuss this with the staff concerned. I hope that you were not put off from using this service again if the need arises.

Jacqui Bliss

Urgent Care Services Manager

Bolton Primary Care Trust (NHS Bolton)

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