General Practice is your gateway to the NHS and the best option for many routine health problems. You can often see a General Practitioner (GP) the same day, particularly for children. Call your practice to check how their urgent appointments system works.
GPs have access to your medical records so they can see all your health needs. When you see your GP they can:
- Provide advice on physical and mental health problems
- Provide diagnosis and treatment for a range of conditions
- Help you with long-term care
- rrange referrals to hospital specialists and community based services when necessary
Between 6.30pm and 8.00am on weekdays, and all day at weekends and on bank holidays, it is known as 'out-of-hours' for GPs. You can still contact your surgery during these times, but they might redirect you to an out-of-hours service.
Typically, out-of-hours cover might include:
- GPs working in A&E departments
- GPs working in minor injuries units (MIUs)
- Walk-in centres staffed with qualified healthcare professionals
- Healthcare professionals (not your GP) making home visits if an assessment shows it is needed
- If possible, ambulance services moving patients to places where they can be seen by a doctor or nurse rather than healthcare professionals having to make home visits
It is very important to be registered with a GP. Unlike with your local pharmacist, you must make an appointment to see a GP, and you can only book one if you are registered.
There will often be several GP surgeries covering your area. You can register with whichever you like as long as they are currently accepting new patients. You can find a GP practice near you on the NHS Choices service finder.
If you’re uncertain about whether you need to see a GP, you can call 111 at no charge. Over-the-phone experts will ask you some questions then advise you on the right care option. They can also refer you to a specialist hospital and community treatment if you need it.
Click here for more information on registering with a GP.