Seeing the GP: Advice and tips for young people

NHS walk-in centres

NHS ‘walk-in centres’ are usually managed by nurses and are available to everyone. Some also offer access to doctors. No appointment is needed, though there may be a bit of a wait to be seen. Most centres are open every day and outside office hours. They can be used when someone:

•    can’t see their GP because the surgery is closed
•    can’t get an appointment when they need one
•    needs to see a GP or nurse but hasn’t registered with a surgery

Walk-in centres can be used when the health problem isn’t an emergency – the NHS advises that they’re not designed for treating long-term conditions or immediately life-threatening problems.
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Walk-in centres offer access to a range of treatments for minor illnesses and injuries, including:

•    minor cuts, bruises, burns, strains, insect and animal bites
•    stitches, wounds and dressing care
•    serious cuts or wounds and fractures  
•    infections, rashes, hay fever
•    stomach aches, vomiting and/or diarrhoea
•    blood pressure checks
•    emergency contraception (pharmacists can also help with this)

Peter hardly ever goes to the doctor’s as he’s usually healthy, but has sometimes been to a walk-in centre because he wanted to be seen by a GP that day. Same-day appointments are hard to get at his local surgery and sometimes there’s less of a wait at the walk-in centre.
Auberon’s local surgery operates as a walk-in centre as well as a surgery for registered patients. He wished that there were more nurses working there so there’d be less waiting.
Simon, who has juvenile arthritis and Crohn’s, usually sees the same GP when he has a problem. On the odd occasion when he couldn’t get an appointment at his local surgery on the day he needed one, he went to a walk-in centre instead:
Hannah feels that getting an appointment with the GP has got harder over the years at her local surgery. She sometimes thinks about registering with another practice, which is less busy but slightly further away, but likes the GP she has seen all her life. When she couldn’t get an appointment for her son, who was 11-months-old at the time and ‘absolutely covered in chicken pox’, she drove to a walk-in centre.
GPs provide ‘out of hours’ care for problems that can’t wait. They’re available in the evenings and weekends when a person’s usual surgery is closed. Private GP services are another alternative – information about these is usually available online.
 

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