With local NHS services under increasing pressure, here is our guide to accessing healthcare services.
1. Self Care
Make sure your first aid kit is stocked up and medicines are in date. Many minor issues like coughs, grazes and sore throats can be treated at home and do not usually require a GP appointment.
If you need medical advice and treatment for things like colds, tummy troubles, rashes, aches and pains, start with your local pharmacy. They can provide help and advice in the first instance.
You can now link your prescriptions to your local pharmacy and most pharmacies offer home deliveries as well. Your prescription is sent electronically to your chosen pharmacy.
3. NHS 111
If you need medical help quickly at any time of day or night, visit the NHS 111 website or call 111.
4. Your GP practice
If you need to see a GP, you can request a face-to-face appointment. GP appointments are available seven days a week and all surgeries can be contacted by phone, calling in to the reception or online.
If your GP surgery is closed, a recorded message will tell you who to contact.
To access online services you will need to set up an account. You can then:
- Make an appointment
- Order repeat prescriptions
- see parts of your health record, including information about medicines, vaccinations and test results
- see communications between your GP surgery and other services, such as hospitals
- book, check or cancel appointments with a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional.
What if you can’t get to see a GP or have a long wait for an appointment
In the first instance you should ask to speak to the Practice Manager and explain your concerns. If you are not happy with the response, you can contact the Patients Association or call their FREE helpline on 0800 348 7115, available weekdays from 9.30am to 5pm.
Unhappy with your GP service or want to see how they are doing
Patients can give feedback on their GP practice, see the results of surveys twice a year and read patient reviews. Visit the website.
Want to change your GP
The CQC (Care Quality Commission) publish their inspection findings on GP practices enabling you to compare services. If you feel a different GP might provide a better service, you can contact them direct to see if they are accepting new patients.
Accessing GP services on behalf of someone else
If you care for an elderly relative, ask about ‘proxy access’, which allows you to sign up (with their permission) to act on their behalf.
5. Emergency Services
For life threatening emergencies like heart attacks or accidents, then contact the emergency services on 999.
6. Mental Health
If you have mental health concerns, call 0800 183 0558 for free, confidential, help, support, information and guidance.