Seeing the GP: Advice and tips for young people

Improving access to GPs: young people’s views

Several things can be important to people when they register with a GP and make appointments to see the doctor. This includes whether the surgery is easy to get to and if they can get an appointment when they need one. Here, people talk about their views on improving access to GPs.

Surgery opening times

Emma’s local surgery was open from 8.30am-6pm, which she thought was ‘decent’, even if it was sometimes hard to take time off work to see a GP. She felt that GP surgeries being open ‘24 hours a day’ was unrealistic, though wondered why some didn’t offer appointments over lunchtime, which would be helpful for people who are working. Other people, like Paula, felt that it can be hard attending appointments for people who are still at school. She didn’t like missing lessons and would like it if GPs could have clinics after school hours. Ish often found it hard to get an appointment that fitted in around his job and felt that it would be helpful if surgeries could employ more doctors and stay open longer:
The local surgery that Simon goes to closes at 6pm and he gets home from work at 8pm. If he has a doctor’s appointment, he often has to take time off work. He felt that longer opening hours and weekend opening would be really helpful. Louis also wondered if GP surgeries could open at weekends, and have more late openings in the evenings, perhaps until 8.30pm. He felt that young people were more likely to go at later times instead of during school. Extended opening would also be useful for people who were working and at college.
Ambeya felt that more young people could access GPs if surgeries were open 24 hours, and there’d be less need to go to A&E if they needed medical advice. John liked the idea of surgeries that opened seven days a week, too, rather than everyone ‘bundled in on a Monday morning’. Lara, though, felt that ‘they should just be open when shops open. Cos they’re not really, you can’t really expect them to be open, because that’s what hospitals are there for as well, cos they’re open all night....I think they should just be open when shops open, but maybe close a little bit later.’ When people can’t get an appointment with a doctor, they can phone their usual GP surgery for out-of-hours services, or go to an NHS walk-in centre if there is one locally, where minor illnesses can be treated without an appointment.
Siobhan often found it hard to make an appointment at her local surgery because appointments were released early in the mornings when she was going to school and in the afternoons when she was still at school. She felt that it would be helpful if surgeries stayed open until later, offered weekend appointments, and more appointments that could be booked online.
Peter was unsure what hours his local surgery opened and thought it was open at weekends too. He felt improving access for young people would include making it easier to get appointments, shorter waiting time in the waiting room, and more GPs as most surgeries are usually busy. Overall, though, he felt that his local surgery was good.

For Sophie it was important that patients were seen quickly. She sometimes felt that, when people couldn’t get an appointment for three weeks, they’d go to A&E instead. She thought that weekend opening could be helpful but that it was more important to improve the quality of care first.
More medical staff

Auberon, like a few other people, would like to see more doctors and nurses at his local surgery so that people could get appointments when they need them and wouldn’t have to wait so long in the waiting room for their appointment. His local health centre operates as a GP surgery as well as a walk-in centre but is often very busy. Jalé felt that more walk-in centres would also be helpful and could take the pressure off GPs in surgeries. She often found it hard to get an appointment and sometimes had to wait for about three or four weeks. Rowan felt that it would be helpful when booking appointments if people could explain what was wrong and be selected a GP with expertise in that area. When he had ongoing stomach pains, he saw around ten different GPs, none of whom came up with the same diagnosis.
Private face to face appointments with GPs and private telephone and online GP services can also be used, though none of the people we spoke to had used these.
 

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