If you, a family member or friend are ill or just need health advice, it can be frustrating trying to get help. Here are some useful tips about how to get the right medical attention, in the right place and at the right time.
|Try to build a positive relationship with your GP practice. Other than in real dire emergencies, this should be your first point of contact for medical advice.
Your first point of call should be your GP practice. Far too many people, especially in urban areas where Muslims tend to live, are not yet registered with a family doctor. I sincerely believe that this may be contributing to the poor state of health of Muslims.
Your family doctor and their practice hold your personal health records. More importantly, through a long-term professional relationship your GP should know more about you and your family's wellbeing than anyone else within the health service. Therefore, it is very important that you register with a practice as soon as you move into a new area.
The vast majority of practices in England and Wales are operating an 'Open list' policy, which means that they are taking on patients within a defined geographical area. All you need do is attend the practise during surgery hours and ask to be registered.
Typically all you need to give the practice is your NHS medical card and if you do not have one you may be asked to fill in a form. Try and complete as many details as you can as it helps the staff speed up obtaining your previous medical records.
A surgery can turn you down because of the fact that you live too far from the practice (every practice has a map of the area from which they take patients) and if you are not eligible to obtain NHS treatment (for example, if you are a visitor to the UK without the right to stay), but for very few other reasons. However, they cannot turn you down because you are 'too ill'.
All practices expect that you have a health check when you join. This is routine and is carried out even if you are well. If you are taking medication, you may be expected to see a doctor or other healthcare professional, in addition to this. This helps the GP practice planning your healthcare, as sometimes there are delays in your medical records coming from your last GP. Often both these check-ups are opportunities to get things like immunisations and cervical smears, which may be overdue, up-to-date.
Surgeries should have a practice leaflet, which tells you about contact details, how to get an appointment, the services offered and how to get emergency help when the surgery is closed.
Try to build a positive relationship with your GP practice. Other than in real dire emergencies, this should be your first point of contact for medical advice. Remember to keep your practice informed of changes of address, phone numbers, medication and other details.
To get a list of GPs in your area or advice about registering with a GP contact your local Primary Care Trust. Alternatively follow the links at the NHS Gateway www.nhs.uk.