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How to Choose a GP: Our Expert Guide for Everyone

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The choice of a GP can have profound implications for your whole family. Your GP will be your primary care physician, so it’s essential to find someone you feel comfortable with and who has the right medical expertise for you.

Health is a topic that we all take very seriously. It’s why we’re here, and it’s what we care about most. However, while your health should be your top priority, choosing a GP can sometimes be an overwhelming task. That’s we’ve created this blog post to help you decide how to choose a GP based on your requirements and needs.

When should i change GP surgery?

Moving into a new area or changing your life circumstances might mean you want to change GP. Perhaps your current surgery isn’t located close enough to where you’re moving? Or perhaps they don’t take on new patients?

You can stay with your current GP surgery after moving locations within the UK. GPs are no longer required to focus on their strict catchment area, so many will accept patients who live outside of it, too- as long as there is an established relationship between the two parties involved (and sometimes this means reregistering).

If you’re moving further afield, it might be better to register as a temporary resident while staying registered with your current GP. You can do this for up to three months.

Other reasons you might want to change GP surgery

One of the most common reasons for patients to change GPs is when they move house. It’s also bound to happen if you’re planning on having a child, although in this case, your GP might be able to offer you maternity care. If your surgery isn’t offering these services, it might be time to find one that does.

Other reasons for changing GP include dissatisfaction with the service, feeling uncomfortable or encountering problems with your GP, unsatisfactory relationships with your doctor, GPs unable to resolve a patient’s problem, GP negligence, and so on.

What would lead to my removal from a GP’s list?

Yes, you can be removed from a GP’s list if they no longer provide the service you need or if there are better services available to you elsewhere. This may happen if the practice closes down, moves away, or changes status (for example, it joins up with another practice).

You can also be removed for misbehaving in some way. Unfortunately, violent and abusive behaviour towards doctors is on the rise. This has caused many patients to be removed from their practices list for safety reasons- usually because other people are being hurt or have been injured. You must be given seven days’ basic medical care from the date you’ve been told you’re no longer on the list. This gives you enough time to register elsewhere and find a different doctor in your area if necessary.

How can you find local surgery?

There are many ways you can find a doctor in your new area:

  • You can find out which doctor is considered to have a good reputation in your area by talking to people around you.
  • You could also use the library, local phone directory or local advice bureau for this information.
  • If needed, some websites offer listings on medical professionals – just type “GP surgery” into Google and review results with each listing before making an appointment.

Your application may be rejected if:

  • The list is already full.
  • You don’t live in the surgery area.
  • You have a medical condition that may need to be referred to other NHS services, and the practice feels it cannot offer this service because of its location, size or staffing structure.

The surgery will let you know the reason for your application’s rejection via email or letter.

Why should i visit the surgery before i register?

One of the reasons you should visit your GP before registering with them is because it will allow you to see if the practice environment suits you. For instance, if it’s too busy, chaotic or intimidating, you can try somewhere different.

It’s also important to visit the surgery before signing up to make sure it’s in an area you like and is close to where you live; otherwise, you might find yourself commuting for hours a day and spending more time on public transport than at work or home.

What is the transfer process to a new surgery?

To register with a new GP, you will need your NHS medical card. You’ll be asked to fill in the GMS1 registration form, and once completed, all of your records will transfer over to your new surgery.

Do i have any rights and responsibilities as a patient?

Patients have both rights and responsibilities. As long as you are registered with a GP, they are obliged to give you treatment that they consider immediately necessary for your health. Your local GP should have a list of patients’ rights, but in general, they are to provide you with the best possible care, treat you as an individual and be sensitive to your needs.

The following are some expectations you can have as a patient:

  1. The most important right is confidentiality which means your GP surgery will keep any medical information to themselves.
  2. You will receive a doctor’s appointment within two days, though waiting times may differ.
  3. Treatment from other health professionals when required.
  4. A medical prescription when required.
  5. Home visits if necessary.

Your responsibilities include attending all allocated surgeries and notifying the surgery of changes in your details such as address or phone number.

How do you find a local practice?

You can find a GP surgery that’s near you and register for an appointment by entering your postcode into the NHS’s Services Near You search facility.

You’ll see a list of surgeries registered in the local area and some information about their location, telephone number, and opening hours. You can then compare the practices to suit yourself.

You can also discuss it with your family, friends, or neighbours to better understand a certain local health practice.

Which vital information should you note when you choose a GP?

There are several important reasons why one might pick their practice based on personal preference or medical need.

Personal Service Policy

As GP surgeries can be very busy, you will generally register with a practice rather than an individual doctor if demand is high. But some practices offer ‘personal doctors’ where patients are only seen by their assigned GPs and not any other practice staff unless on special request. This could be worth looking into for those who have ongoing health issues. You might have longer waiting periods or bookings at times. So, if rapid access matters to you, booking the next available doctor would be a better option.

Accessibility and Location

You should consider the practicalities of how you will travel before booking your appointment. If public transport is not too far away, it might be more convenient for some people. Do not forget about parking spaces either – if there are none within walking distance, then make sure that this is respected during your visit.

Several accessibility needs can arise when attending medical practices, including limited mobility or using a wheelchair. These individuals may need dedicated space on site, which has been specially designated by law with appropriate amenities such as ramps and lifts available at all times.

Opening Hours

It might be worth checking whether their opening hours match up with your typical day. Some GPs offer evening or early morning appointments which could make them more convenient if working full time is the norm in your profession.

Online Availability and Appointments

Some practices offer patients the opportunity to speak with a receptionist on the phone, email their GP directly or submit an online form. If you’re interested in accessing your doctor this way, it’s worth checking out what services they provide for those methods of contact before making any decisions about which one is best suited to you.

Points to consider concerning a special interest, service, or treatment

Most GPs are qualified to treat a wide variety of illnesses, but some develop an area of ‘special interest’ to accumulate additional expertise. For example, dermatologists or women’s health specialists can provide helpful advice for those suffering from certain complaints that may need treatment on occasion – like skin issues which could be helped with regular visits to your local GP practice.

Some people prefer to see a doctor of a specific gender. If you are one of these individuals, make sure that the practice has providers who meet this preference available for your visit to be as comfortable and effective as possible and have appointments with the same doctor.

What are the steps for changing GP?

If you’re thinking of contacting a new GP practice, the first step must be filling out an application form with your details and information about any previous doctors. You can either do this over email or on a phone call, so they have enough time to get all of their paperwork organized beforehand.

Is a temporary registration possible?

Suppose you are away from home for an extended period, such as on holiday, working in another part of the country, or temporarily live elsewhere. In that case, it’s possible to register yourself as a temporary patient with your preferred practice.

If there’s no chance of returning within three months, though, then permanent registration will be required.

How do you know if a doctor is the right fit for your health care needs?

An alternative is getting private health insurance, through which your plan can be customized according to your requirements while keeping in mind the policy’s specifications, and here we explained how it works in detail. In either case, when you first meet your new doctor, the most important thing is that they make you feel at ease. The family doctor should show an interest in getting to know who you are as a person and answer all of your questions honestly.

Questions? Speak to a real person

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