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Four Ways to Improve a GP Waiting Room

15 Dec 22

By Hattie


A baby cries. An elderly woman sniffs. A phone rings in reception. A toilet flushes in the distance. A door hinge squeaks. As the traffic in the street outside dies down, a bird can be heard chirping through the open window. You can hear the clock on the wall ticking. Have I really been here that long?

On an untidy table is an out-of-date copy of the New Statesman with half its front cover missing announcing Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans for a referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.

We sit facing each other with our backs to the wall in deathly silence trying desperately to avoid catching anyone’s eye.

But does a doctor’s waiting room have to be like this? Or is there room for improvement? Let’s look at four aspects from seating to toys, to doctor’s surgery advertising to patient call systems and improve GP waiting rooms.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Probably not. But I’ll begin anyway. Most doctors waiting room chairs should be consigned to the seating mortuary. Uncomfortable hard-backed chairs do nothing to ease our anxiety.

How about different styles to improve the GP waiting room and provide comfortable seating? Perhaps low chairs for children and some with arm rests to help the elderly get up. Try arranging them in clusters so we don’t have to look at each other. Make sure patient seating is as close to waiting room posters and leaflets as possible to avoid patients wandering around the room.

Toying with an idea to keep children amused

Kids are not good at sitting still and doing nothing. It’s programmed into their genes – ask any parent. They get miserable. Time passes slower for the wee ones when they are bored.

How about doctor’s waiting room toys? Make it a fun place to go. Just a simple bag of an old stalwart like Lego can keep a child amused for hours. How about placing a kids and toddler play area in front of seat clusters designed for visitors with children? How about interactive toys for children that encourage sensory learning?

Make a doctor’s waiting room a healthy place to visit

It may sound rather contradictory but visiting a doctor’s waiting room is a great way to get healthy. Why? You are there because of a health issue. Therefore, your health is at the forefront of your mind and you are more likely to take heed of advice contained in healthy eating leaflets and on waiting room posters. GP surgeries are a deeply trusted environment by patients. It is a rare guarantee of a timely moment for campaigns to be seen by people seriously reflecting on their health and lifestyle.

IDS UK has access to 4,000 NHS waiting areas in the UK and can reach more than 50% of the UK population in a healthcare setting. Healthy eating leaflets support your patients to help themselves AND keep their minds occupied while waiting for their appointment. Waiting room patient education can result in prevention rather than cure.

There will be another patient along in two minutes

A doctor’s waiting room patient call system kills two birds with one stone. It saves a member of staff or a doctor from flitting in and out of the waiting room. But, perhaps more importantly, it allows patients to see where they are in the queue, and it may even display the waiting time. Just like at a bus stop or at a railway station. Place your noticeboard, leaflet display or poster next to the patient call system digital display for maximum notice.

For more information on advertising in our GP network, please call 01489 860000.