Seeing the GP: Advice and tips for young people

Improving the surgery waiting room for young people

The people we talked to felt that GP surgery waiting rooms could be improved in several ways to make them more appealing and welcoming to young people. Here are their suggestions.

Posters and leaflets relevant to young people

Paula felt that most of the information at her local surgery was about pregnancy, the flu and smoking, and that information on contraception and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) might be more helpful. Auberon and Gentian felt that there were no posters at their surgeries that were relevant for young people as they were all aimed at older patients. Posters of illnesses more common in their age group would be helpful. Kyle felt that topics of interest to young people included spots and skin health, and Winston thought that more information on sports injuries would be useful. Siobhan recalled that there were posters at her surgery about sex and contraception but nothing about mental health. Peter felt that leaflets should be tailored to specific age groups, and include information that’s social as well as health related, such as leaflets about meeting new people and relationships, and a leaflet about trusted health websites. Up-to-date magazines for different age groups would also be useful.
Tagbo felt that young people are often scared to see the GP so surgeries need to ‘entice them to go’. He felt that activities and posters that young people could engage with would be useful, including health quizzes on relevant topics.
Young people were in favour of relevant information in the waiting room and wanted to know more about mental health, sexual health (including unprotected sex), relationships, and period problems. Rowan felt that it would also be helpful to have more information about mental health in schools and youth clubs because it was about ‘prevention in the playground, not in paediatrics’.
Other people wanted more information on puberty, stress and exams, and smoking, alcohol, and drug abuse. Hazzan felt that it was important to have information about mental and sexual health, puberty, and healthy relationships:
People also thought that it would be useful to have some posters about what to expect when visiting the GP and their rights (such as privacy, and being able to decide whether they want a parent or friend at the appointment with them).

A more colourful waiting room with comfortable seating

Rowan felt that more colour could make surgery waiting rooms look ‘cheery’, and Nikki thought that a ‘warmer’ colour would be better for surgeries rather than a plain one. Louis felt that colour would ‘liven up’ surgeries and, if they looked more modern, they would feel more welcoming. Aphra recalled that her village surgery has ‘a really nice community feel’ and has art work on the walls made by children from the local primary school. Rowan also stressed the importance of having and being able to access Wi-Fi, and several people felt that having a TV in the waiting room would help pass the time when appointments were running late.

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