Edward Picot has been a practice manager for 17 years. His website, edwardpicot.com, features a collection of his writing, poetry, short stories and animations
I always send our enhanced services claim before the end of the quarter, writes Edward Picot, but a couple of weeks after the latest quarter end I received an email from the primary care trust (PCT) reminding me to make my submission. I emailed back explaining that I had already done so, but attached another copy to make sure.
Two weeks later, I received a further email saying that my claim had not been received, and asking me to send it in as soon as possible. I replied that I'd now sent it twice, and could they confirm that I was sending it to the right place? They confirmed, but said they hadn't received it. So I sent it a third time.
About four weeks later, we still hadn't been paid. I rang the PCT, and they put me through to the Payments Department. The girl in Payments readily agreed that we hadn't had our money, but said she only processed the payments once they had been authorised by somebody called Sue Golding. It was Sue I needed to talk to. She gave me her direct line.
I rang this number and got through to an answerphone. I left a message.
By the end of the week there was still no response, so I rang back at the start of the next week. This time, Sue's answerphone message informed me that she was on holiday. If the matter couldn't wait until her return, the person to contact was Sarah Gudgeon.
I rang Sarah Gudgeon, and was greeted by another answerphone message. I left several messages, gradually becoming more irate in tone.
On the Friday, Sarah Gudgeon rang me back and was most apologetic for the delay. She was only part-time, she explained, and her dog had been poorly. She couldn't shed any light on what had happened to our payments, either, because Sue was the only one who knew about that sort of thing. Sue was back on Monday, so she'd leave a message on her desk.
Nobody called me back on Monday. On Tuesday I tried Sue's direct line and got an answerphone message informing me that she only worked on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. "But this is Tuesday!" I thought.
I rang back later in the day, and this time my call was transferred to the switchboard. "Can I speak to Sue Golding?"
"She's on the line," said the operator. "Would you like to hold?"
"Okay," I said.
Silence for three minutes – then I was cut off. I called the switchboard again.
"I was holding on for Sue Golding, and I got cut off."
"Yes," said the switchboard lady placidly. "Our system cuts you off if you hold for more than three minutes. Oh, she's just got off the line. Shall I put you through?"
I got through to the answerphone again, informing me that Sue only worked on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Perhaps I'm getting old, but wasn't there once a time when you could get through to people on the telephone and get things sorted out?