GOING
TO THE
DOCTOR’S

We know it can be difficult to talk to people when you’re struggling with your mental and physical health. Did you know that you can see a Doctor from the age of 12 on your own? Here are a few tips that may help.

What a Doctor can help with

A general practitioner or GP is a Doctor who listens and gives advice with all sorts of health issues. Their job is to look after your general health and wellbeing. Doctor’s don’t just give prescriptions for medicines. They can give advice, help you to find other sources of help and also refer you to other medical professionals with more specialist knowledge.

A Doctor is there to look out for your whole health. This could be if you are feeling sad, angry, struggling to sleep or aches and pains. They can look at lots of different ways to help you. Doctor’s work best when they can get to know you a bit, so it’s often better to go and see a Doctor when you start to worry that you are not feeling well rather than waiting too long. Whether it’s a physical thing or mental health, Doctors are there to support and help.

How to find a Doctor in your area

If you’re over the age of 16, you can register with a Doctor by yourself. You can find a list of local Doctor’s in your area here

They will ask you to fill in a registration form. Some Doctor’s also ask to see a proof of identity like a passport or proof of address like a mobile phone bill.

GP practices are also listed in local telephone directories. Alternatively if you are walking past one just drop in and talk to staff.

Making an appointment

You can make an appointment by calling your GP surgery and speaking to the receptionist or going there in person. The receptionist will probably ask you who the appointment is for and why. They are not being nosey. They just need to make sure that you see the right person at the right time.

What will happen when you visit the Doctor?

When you go to the Doctor’s sometimes you will see a Doctor but you may also see a Nurse Practitioner. In both cases you will normally only see them for 10 mins. In that time they will try to find out what is wrong, get an idea of your overall health and also try to work out some next steps.

Know your rights

When you are making your appointment:
• When you make your first appointment you have a right to ask to see either a female doctor or a male doctor.
• If you already have a doctor whom you like and trust, you can always request to see him or her when you make an appointment.
• You should also be able to book appointments in advance by ringing and requesting an appointment or using the Doctor’s online booking system.

Confidentiality

Everything said between you and the Doctor is confidential. This means they are not allowed to tell other people that you have been to see them. The same goes for reception staff. The only time that confidentiality might be broken is if the Doctor feels you or someone else might be at risk of harm. Most of the time the Doctor can only contact others about your health with your permission.

Getting the most out of your appointment

Getting prepared for your appointment is a good idea. Use the Doc Ready checklist http://www.docready.org/#/picker to work out the things you want to talk to your Doctor about. Doctor’s use what you tell them to help them work out what will help. If you don’t tell them enough, they won’t have enough information to suggest anything useful.

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Tell the Doctor right at the start what you want to talk about and be as honest as you can. It should be a two-way conversation so remember to ask the doctor questions too, especially if the doctor says something which you don’t think is right for you or you don’t understand.

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You can take a friend or family member in with you if you want to. This might give you more confidence to talk to the doctor. They could even tell the doctor about the problems or challenges that you’re having if you don’t feel confident enough.

Try and write down what the doctor says to you to help you remember it and ask if they have any information that you can take away with you like a leaflet or website / app to look at. A good way to make sure you’ve understood what the Doctor has said to you is repeating it back to them, asking if you’ve got it right.

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