Do you need to see your GP? It’s something we all have to do sometimes, but we don’t always know how to talk to our doctors or make the best use of our appointments. There’s a lot that your GP can do for you, but they’ll be able to do more when you’re well prepared. Read on to find out how you can make the most of your time at the clinic, whatever your reasons for visiting.
One important thing you can do before you step foot inside the clinic is to book your appointment the right way. I don’t just mean that you should choose a time that’s convenient for you or that lets you avoid travelling through London at rush hour. There is one key piece of information that you should share with the clinic when you make the appointment: the main purpose of your visit.
You don’t have to tell the clinic exactly what’s wrong when you’re booking (it‘s not your job to diagnose yourself!), but it helps to give us some idea. We’ll be more prepared for the appointment so you’ll get your answers quicker. It’s especially important in some cases. For example, if you need travel vaccinations we might need to order them in for you. It’s also a good idea to tell us if you need help with more than one issue as we may recommend booking a longer appointment.
Another simple but easily overlooked tip is to be ready to show the area that you’re talking about during the appointment. Don’t cover up a discoloured toenail with polish or wear trousers that are hard to roll up when you have a sprained ankle. Help yourself to feel more comfortable by wearing something that makes the examination easier.
Another good way to get the most out of your GP visits is to arrange them at a private clinic. You’ll get more time with the doctor. Average GP appointments in the NHS are under 10 minutes, which isn’t always enough to discuss a complex issue. At the WWC, you won’t feel rushed at all when you see your GP. You’ll be able to talk about everything that’s on your mind and ask all your questions. You won’t even have to wait long to see your doctor as you’ll be able to arrange your appointment quickly.
Even though we’ll ensure you have plenty of time with the doctor, it still helps to use this time efficiently. Try to talk about your main symptoms or concerns first, rather than leaving them until later in the appointment. It might seem obvious, but many of us find it difficult to start talking about our more embarrassing or frightening symptoms right away. Often a patient will mention a serious concern just before the appointment ends, when there isn’t always time to deal with it during that visit. We’ll do our best to make it easy for you to talk about your worries.
The best approach to talking to your GP is just to be as clear and honest as you can about your symptoms. I sometimes try to practice this a few times before the appointment so I’ll be able to say it clearly and succinctly. I just imagine the first things I’ll say to the doctor in so that I know what I want to say when go in.
Just a few sentences are usually enough to explain the reasons for your visit. Tell us what you’re feeling, when it started and if you think it was connected to anything, such as an injury, a trip abroad or an illness you’ve come in contact with. Don’t feel like you’re wasting our time or get embarrassed about intimate areas. We’re happy to listen and we’ve seen it all before.
It can be difficult to remember everything that you want to tell your doctor. I always seem to think of something I forgot to say on the way home, unless I’ve written it down before the appointment. Having a short list of your symptoms or questions for your GP can be really helpful. You might also want to make some notes during or at the end of your appointment so that you don’t forget anything the doctor tells you.
If you feel more comfortable having a friend or relative with you, then you’re welcome to bring them to the WWC when you visit. You can ask them to wait outside while you speak with the doctor if you just need them there for emotional support while you’re waiting. However, you will usually be able to bring them into the room with you if you want. We might just ask them to step outside if we need to discuss something sensitive or perform certain procedures.
Having someone you trust nearby can be very reassuring and they may be able to help you remember what you wanted to tell the doctor and what the doctor says during the appointment. It can also be handy to have a friend to assist you on your way to and from the clinic when you’re feeling unwell. However, it’s important for you to be the focus of the appointment so you’re the one who we want to hear from.
The most important point to remember when visiting your GP is that you’re the most important person in the room. You’re the one who knows how you really feel. You are also the one who needs to know what is wrong and what can be done about it. If you feel unsure about anything or you don’t understand your diagnosis or treatment plan then it’s important to ask the doctor. Your GP will be ready to explain everything until you understand it.
Do you have any other tricks for getting the most out of your time with the GP?