GPs (who are also called doctors) look after the health of people in their local community and deal with a whole range of health problems. They also give health education and advice on things like smoking and diet, run clinics, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical operations.
GPs usually work with a team including nurses, health visitors and midwives, as well as a range of other health professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists. If a GP cannot deal with your problem themselves, they’ll usually refer you to a hospital for tests, treatment or to see a consultant with specialised knowledge.
Every individual living lawfully and on a settled basis in the UK has a right to be registered with a local GP’s surgery and visits to the surgery are free.
Registering at a GP’s (doctor’s) surgery
It is important to be registered with a surgery as they refer you for specialist hospital and community treatment services if needed.
You can find your nearest GP surgery by calling NHS Direct on 0845 46 47, or by looking on the website.
Phone or call into the GP surgery and they’ll be able to tell you how to register – it won’t take long.
Making an appointment
It’s a good idea to keep your GP’s name and the surgery telephone number near the telephone or on the fridge door, so it’s easy to find when you need to make an appointment.
Call the surgery for an appointment time, and try to get there five minutes early.
It is important to attend for appointments, or notify the surgery if you have to cancel or change it.
Tackling GP appointment nerves
Sometimes we all need support from our friends and family, especially if you have a health problem that is worrying you. For example, if you think you might be pregnant, are concerned about sexually transmitted infections, or if you are worried about some test results.
If you need to go to the GPs but want some moral support, ask a friend, family member, boyfriend or girlfriend or someone that you like and trust to go with you. You might want them to stay in the waiting room while you see the GP or maybe you’d like them to come in with you.
Talk through your concerns so they know how you feel and can help. The important thing is not to put off your appointment. Be brave, it probably won’t be as bad as you think.
Key things to remember
- You can go to a NHS Walk-in centre, even if you have your own normal GP
- Some GPs run special clinics for young people.
- Depending on your circumstances, you might be able to get free or reduced fee prescriptions.
- NHS Direct is a totally confidential telephone helpline that can help anyone out with virtually any health question 24 hours a day on 0845 46 47.
- In an emergency, always call 999.
Who can help?
For advice and support you can either visit the NHS Direct website at www.nhsdirect.com or call their 24 hour confidential helpline on 0845 46 47.
For more details on the NHS and the services they offer in your area visit the NHS site at www.nhs.uk.