Having great interactions
Finding a good GP is essential if you are to get good support and the right medication. It also matters when you need a hospital referral. Because of my nursing background, I also expect visits to my GP be an equal two-way conversation about medication or treatment.
Most GP’s surgeries allow you to order regular medication and book appointments on line. It’s well worth learning how to do this – it really isn’t difficult. Booking non-urgent appointments and ordering medication from home saves time and energy too.
I use the Health app in my iPhone to store all my medical informations. There are similar ones for other phones and they can be accessed even if your phone is locked. If you don’t trust technology make sure you have information available in case of emergency. Some people use Message in a Bottle.
If you have life-threatening conditions or allergies you may want to consider MedicAlert. They do charge a yearly fee, but provide a great service.
1 Do your research
Ask friends and neighbours, especially those with health problems. If you need a GP who speaks your language, make sure that there are at least two GPs in the practice you choose that you can talk to. The same rule applies if you prefer to always see a woman GP.
Check the Surgery out on line: the CQC is an indepedent inspection body who rate all GP practices on a variety of standards
There is a totally independent site. It’s a great place to check. Their reviews are straightforward and give clear percentages for each question.
This NHS run site allows patients to give their own ratings on different services. I don’t find it as helpful as it tends to cite only the best or worse experiences.
2 Don’t think the nearest GP is best
Never chose a Surgery because it’s the nearest one to get to. I have to pass two GP practices to get to see my GP and it’s well worth the extra time.
My friend Sue who lives the other end of London to me, chose her GP because he was nearby. Sue has type 2 diabetes and in the last 3 months has had 3 leg infections with blisters on her skin. Her GP wouldn’t send her to specialist Diabetic Nurse. He refused to give her a glucose monitoring kit. She was told she couldn’t see a specialist Tissue Viability Nurse about her dressings. She was also told to pay for the wound dressings.
The way she was treated not only broke NHS guidelines, but could have severely endangered her health. Because the NHS is short of money, Sue presumed that what she was being told was ok. She felt she didn’t ‘deserve’ any more care because it was too expensive. I was furious when I heard about this.
I spoke to Sue and explained the care she should be getting. She is now with a better GP. Although the surgery is a 10 minute bus ride away, Sue is getting referred to the right specialists and she will get the right care.
3 Speak to a GP before signing up
If at all possible, ask to speak with one of the GPs at the practice you are considering. This is especially important if you have a rare condition or multiple interacting conditions. You can often get an idea of they way you will be treated in future by the response you get to your request.
Also GPs who are training practices are often more up to date on new treatments and complex conditions.
4 Find more than one good GP
Most GPs work in group practice settings. So whilst you maybe registered with a specific GP you can be seen by any GP who works there. You will probably easily find one GP who you have a great rapport with. But, GPs have holidays, are sick themselves or they go on training courses. So find at least one more GP in your practice who will know you and can look after you if you need something urgent when your GP is away.
5 The power of paper
When seeing a new GP or hospital doctor for the first time I always take with me a concise medical history of the 12 operations I’ve had as an adult, my current medication and the allergies I have. This paper also lists the 8 conditions I’ve been diagnosed with and a summary of my current issues. This makes consultations much more focussed and doesn’t waste valuable time going over irrelevant stuff. It also means the Doctor has everything in front of them if they need to write referral letters or evidence letters for Social Services and the DWP.
Part 2 coming soon.