Getting the most out of your GP appointment
Most GP appointments last 10 minutes - so by the time you've walked in, said hello, explained why you're there and been examined, there's not a lot of time left for small talk.
Make a note of any questions, problems or symptoms you want to discuss before you see your GP. When you are there, note down any points you might forget. P atients who don’t get what they want have usually not thought about what they wanted, before the appointment.
If you are anxious about seeing your doctor, you can bring someone with you. If you need an interpreter, let the surgery know in advance so they can sort this out for you. Wear loose clothing if it's likely you'll need to be examined. You can ask the practice to provide a chaperone if you feel uncomfortable being examined on your own.
During the appointment
Try to only talk about one problem at a consultation. Telling your GP why you have come and giving the key facts fast will help make the most of your 10 minutes. I f you have a problem that you find difficult to discuss, don't wait until the end of the appointment. No matter how embarrassing you think your problem is, your GP will have heard it many times before.
S tick to the facts. Don’t manipulate them to fit what you think is wrong with you. If you have several problems, concentrate on the main problem . Be prepared to make another appointment to sort out additional problems individually.
If you're prescribed a drug, make sure you know why it's been given to you and how long to take it for. If you forget to do this, your pharmacist is an expert in medication and a very useful source of advice.
What about children?
Make a separate appointment for each member of the family. Always accompany under 16 year-olds, but remember that if a teenager strongly wishes to be treated without their parent's involvement, that confidentiality will be respected.
End of the appointment
Make sure that at the end of a consultation all your questions have been answered and you understand:
- what might be wrong
- if you need any further tests
- what treatment is best for you
- what happens next
The Patients Association has produced a booklet designed to help patients get the most out of consultations with their doctor entitled You and Your Doctor . The NHS Choices website also includes a guide for patients to help them with their consultations, entitled ' Questions to Ask '.