Whose time is it anyway? Part one

Patients need to understand a clinicians time is also precious, Alun Rees argues.

An exchange of emails last week brought home to me that there are some things that never go away.

Perennial, potential, problems which, for a successful professional life, must be faced.

The issue was one of appointments offered outside normal working hours, in this case evenings and weekends.

Some patients had the habit of not respecting practice time and were allowed to cancel at short notice.

However, they were still expecting to reschedule into these convenient slots.

The problem was apparently magnified because they were ‘plan’ patients and therefore ‘did not expect to pay’ for their examination and hygiene appointments.


We all have one thing in common – time.

Seven days in each week, 24 hours in every day, 60 minutes to the hour.

How we control and use our time contributes hugely to our quality of life.

The clock liberates or enslaves, your choice.

Patients had clearly not understood that this is a two-way street and that the clinician’s time is also important and has a value.

It must be explained that to be able to choose their time of visit was a privilege not given to everyone.

I was taught by a team member who would not tolerate my time being wasted, and controlled the flow of my days for maximum effectiveness.

Our policy became: ‘We choose to whom we offer our extra hours’, we let patients know it was invitation only; one strike and you’re out.

They came to understand that those appointments were a privilege and that I also had domestic commitments and a life.

Our routine review of patients included an update of their occupations and what times worked best for them and us.

Burnout is rife, don’t fan the flames.

Set your limits and stick to them.

Read more from Alun Rees:

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