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UK healthcare: Your local doctor (GP)

31st August 2009, Comments0 comments

UK healthcare: Your local doctor (GP)
If you're looking for a doctor in the UK, here's a guide on how to find and register with a doctor (GP) in the UK and what to expect from UK healthcare.

If you're looking for a doctore in the UK, usually a small group of GPs work together in a practice, often referred to as a surgery, clinic or health centre.

Your local doctor, also known as a general practitioner (GP), provides a wide range of services including providing advice on health problems, physical examinations, diagnosis of symptoms, and prescribing medication and other treatments.

Registering with a doctor's surgery in the UK

You can find information about the GP surgeries in your area by entering your postcode on the NHS Choices website.

Once you've chosen a doctor's surgery, you'll need to register with it as an NHS patient. To register with a surgery, talk to the receptionist, who can tell you whether you live in the area the surgery covers and whether it is taking on new patients.

You no longer need to register with an individual doctor; instead you can choose which doctor, nurse or health professional you wish to see, without giving a reason.

If your application is successful

If the surgery is willing to accept you as one of its NHS patients, you'll need to fill in a registration form (GMS1), which the receptionist will give to you. Your medical records will then be transferred to your new surgery.
If your application is refused

If you live over a certain distance away from a surgery, or if it has closed its patient list, your application may be refused. If this happens contact your local Primary Care Trust (PCT), which should be able to find you a new doctor's surgery quickly.

The surgery that refused to accept you should give you reasons for its decision. It must not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, social class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability or medical condition.

Contact your local Primary Care Trust .

Registering your baby

You will need to fill in form FP58, which you receive from the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages when you register your baby's birth, and take it to your doctor's surgery.

What service you can expect

If your condition is non-urgent, you can expect to see a doctor within two working days, although waiting times will depend upon the size of the practice. It is essential that you keep appointments and if you can't that you give your GP at least one day's notice.

If you have communication difficulties, or if you think you need more time to discuss issues with your doctor, you should be able to book a longer appointment.

Your doctor will usually be supported by a team of nurses, health visitors and midwives, as well as other specialists, including physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

Booking an appointment online


Some surgeries offer a service to book appointments over the internet, or via your digital TV or mobile phone. You can see the available appointments and choose the most convenient time, cancel or change your appointment, and sometimes request repeat prescriptions.

This service is only available from surgeries that use the EMIS Access booking system. For more information and how to register, ask your doctor's receptionist.

Booking GP appointments online – Patient UK.

Getting specialised treatment and equipment

Your doctor can supply you with treatment and/or equipment depending on your requirements. They can also refer you to specialist services in a hospital or other community setting.

Some arrangements may be important to sort out before going to see your doctor for an appointment. For example, if you are deaf or have a hearing impairment, arrangements can be made for a sign language interpreter to be present.

Out-of-hours surgery and home visits

Your doctor can make both after-hours and home visits.

After-hours (emergency) service
All doctors' surgeries will have an out of normal hours emergency service. This service is only for urgent medical problems that cannot be left unattended until the surgery re-opens. Check with your surgery for out-of-hours surgery arrangements

If you have a non-urgent health problem or query, you can also contact the NHS Direct telephone helpline anytime on 0845 4647 or if you live in Scotland call NHS 24 on 08454 242424.

Home visits
If you are too ill or physically unable to attend your surgery, arrangements can be made for a doctor to visit you at home. This may be the case if you have a disability and are housebound. Again, check details with your surgery.
Changing doctor's surgery

You have the right to change your doctor's surgery without giving a reason. The process of finding a new doctor is similar to registering. However, it would be extremely helpful (for administrative purposes) to notify your current surgery that you are leaving.

Getting prescriptions in the UK

If you need medication your doctor will write a prescription for you to take to the pharmacist. Depending on your medication, you may be able to collect a repeat prescription at a pre-arranged time from your surgery - without having to see your doctor.

If you have a disability, prescriptions can be filled and delivered to your door by arrangement between your doctor and your pharmacist.

Complaining about your doctor

If you wish to make a complaint about the care or service provided by your doctor or doctors' surgery, contact the person at your surgery responsible for the practice complaints procedure. Additionally, you may wish to use the complaints service operated by the Health Service Ombudsman.

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