Our doctors each see around 30 patients per day and an appointment slot is allocated 10 minutes. In addition we offer 5 minute telephone appointments for simple advice and review of results. The Doctors also spend time writing referrals and medical reports, as well as writing and signing large numbers of prescriptions for our patients. But we understand that you’re busy too! Here are a few ideas to make sure that you cover everything you want to discuss and both you and your doctor can get the most from your visit.
See the same doctor – if you have a long-term problem, try to see a doctor who knows you. Many GPs work part-time so you may need to be organised when booking appointments. Yes, you might need to wait another day, but it will save you both a lot of time, because you won’t have to keep going over the same ground. For urgent matters, any doctor should be able to help, even if they don’t know your case.
Sum it up – if you are seeing a new doctor, bring them up-to-date at the start of the appointment.
Write a list – Before you see the doctor write a list of problems, starting with the most important. List your symptoms so you don’t forget them. It can be helpful to write down when they started and what makes them better or worse if you have several problems. Please limit the number of problems per consultation in order to properly deal with each issue. One or two problems per 10 minute appointment should be the norm. If you have urinary symptoms it can be helpful to bring a sample of urine with you for the doctor to test while you are in. If you have requested an urgent or emergency appointment the doctor will only have time to deal with the condition you have the appointment about. You may be asked to come back again to deal with the least pressing ones. Your GP needs to have the time to deal with your problems appropriately. If you have a complicated problem you can ask for a double appointment when you book.
Don’t worry – be honest about what you think may be causing the problem, and don’t be embarrassed. Your doctor will have seen and heard it all before. Research shows that we forget half of what we’re told by the doctor when we’re stressed, so you could bring a friend or relative if you’re worried.
Be fair to other patients and your GP – Make one appointment for each family member who needs to be seen. If you ask the GP to see more than one person during an appointment, it means everyone else will have longer in the waiting room.
Understand what’s happening and be clear about what you want to happen – You can ask the doctor to repeat and explain anything you don’t understand.
Call if you need to cancel – let us know if you can’t make an appointment. GP surgeries experience lots of missed appointments each week, which could have been used for others.
Talk to our staff – all our staff have to comply with the same confidentiality rules as the doctors. If you can give them a brief idea of your problem, they can direct you to the most appropriate service. This might be a nurse or pharmacist, rather than the doctor.