GPs - What to expect from your doctor - Getting ready
How can I prepare for a GP appointment?
What if I don’t have a GP?
You need to register with a local GP surgery to see a GP. You can find your local surgeries on the NHS Choices page here, or you can dial 111 to call ‘NHS 111.’ You can ask them for local surgery contact details. You usually need to be in a surgery’s catchment area to register there. The catchment area is the local area that the surgery covers. GP surgeries can take patients from outside their area, but they don’t have to.
To register at a GP surgery, ask at their reception for a registration form. You might be able to do this online. The form will ask general questions such as your name, address, date of birth and details of your previous GP.
You can register as a temporary patient if you are going to be in the area for less than 3 months. After 3 months you will need to register there as a permanent patient. You can register at a GP surgery if you are homeless. You can use a friend’s address, the address of a day centre or the address of the GP surgery when you register.
In some areas you can see a GP by going to a walk-in service. You do not need to be a registered patient to visit these centres. Use the above link or call ‘111’ to find your nearest walk-in centre.
Making an appointment
Once you are registered you can make an appointment with a GP. You will need to contact the GP surgery to make an appointment. You can choose to see the first GP available. Or you can choose to book an appointment with a specific GP. You can try and book an appointment with the same
GP if you have a follow up appointment. You do not need to tell the receptionist why you want an appointment.
When you book your appointment you can ask the receptionist if there is a GP with an interest in mental health. You can also ask to see a male or female GP.
The waiting time for an appointment to see a GP will be different at different GP surgeries. It can be a few weeks. Ask at reception for an emergency appointment if you need to see someone urgently. You might not be able to see your regular GP if you ask for an emergency appointment.
Some surgeries offer telephone appointments. Speak to reception to find out. A GP will call you to talk about your problems or any follow-up care.
Before the appointment
Write down what you want to talk about in the appointment. And what you want to get from the appointment. This can help if you are feeling anxious or worried, and can help you remember the questions you want to ask.
Write down a list of your symptoms. And if they get worse at certain times or when you do certain things. Write down anything else that you think your doctor needs to know, such as any medication you’re taking.
A mood diary can help you keep track of your symptoms, how you’re feeling and how your mood affects you. We have included a mood diary here.
Can I take someone with me?
Yes. This might be a close friend, relative or advocate. An advocate is someone outside of the NHS who can offer you support and help you to get your voice heard by your GP.
Your friend or relative could go into the appointment with you or you can ask them to wait for you.
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays