The way appointment systems work varies hugely between
GP practices. For example, you may need to phone at a certain time of the day,
week or month to make an appointment. Some surgeries have online booking
systems for future appointments. You may have to book regular appointments well
How long you have to wait for an appointment may be a
factor you take into account when choosing your GP practice. You may have to
wait longer to see a more popular doctor, if you would like to see the same
doctor at each appointment, or if you would like an appointment outside working
If you have an urgent health problem, a GP in your
practice should see you as soon as possible. Many surgeries keep some
appointments free for people who need to see a doctor urgently. Surgeries may
ask you to ring at certain times for these, or they may have a system where you
go to the surgery and wait. You may need to wait some time, especially at
certain times of the week. It may not be possible to see the GP of your choice
if you also want to be seen quickly. You may also be told you can only raise
one issue at this appointment, and will need to make another appointment for
In some cases, you may be able to have a telephone
consultation with a GP. For some health queries, it may be appropriate to see a
practice nurse instead.
You can ask for a home visit, but a GP will only come
to your home if they think your medical condition makes it necessary. They will
also decide how urgently they need to come.
Ask reception staff about the booking systems when you
register. It may also be helpful to know the days or times when particular GPs
work if you have a preference about who you see. You may have to ask
specifically if you would like to see the same doctor each time.
GP appointments are usually short – about ten minutes,
although longer slots may be available for people with complex health issues.
If you feel you will need more time with your GP, you can try asking for a
double appointment when you book.
Being prepared for your appointment can help you and
your GP get more out of the time you have.
- Make a list of your symptoms and note down when they
began, how long they have lasted and how severe they are. Is there anything
that seems to make them better or worse, or are they worse at certain times?
- Make a list of any questions you would like to ask
your GP. In some situations, you might want to take someone with you to the
appointment, as it can be hard to remember everything you’re told or would like
to ask, especially if you are anxious. Remember to ask about any test results
- Make a list of medications you are taking (or bring them
- Be honest about the problem and anything that may be
contributing to it, or that may prevent you following up any action you need to
- Ask the doctor to repeat anything you don’t
If you still have concerns about your health after
seeing a GP, don’t be reluctant to book another appointment.
If you feel that your GP lacks knowledge about HIV, it
may help to be open with them. By maintaining a relationship with your GP, you
allow them to gain more experience and you contribute to improving the overall
standard of care available to people with HIV.
Unlike at your HIV clinic, your GP practice won’t
generally set regular appointments with you or run the same range of tests each
time you go. It’s usually up to you to decide when you should consult your GP.
Some exceptions to this are if you are being monitored regularly for a
particular condition (for example, at a diabetes or asthma clinic), or because
of medication or treatment you are on.
You will get the best service by being actively
involved in looking after your health. Work with your GP by asking for advice
about lifestyle changes and action you can take to stay as well as possible,
and seek advice early if you are concerned about symptoms.