Seeing the GP: Advice and tips for young people

Out of hours GP services

All GP practices (surgeries or health centres) are linked to an out of hours service. The details for this are available on the surgery answer phone outside normal working hours. GPs provide out of hours care for problems that can’t wait. They’re available when someone’s usual surgery is closed. The out of hours service usually runs from 6.30pm to 8am on weekdays, and all day at weekends and bank holidays, but this will vary if the practice runs some evening or Saturday morning surgeries.
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Many people we spoke to had never used out of hours services. Susan once went because of an eye condition that she was very worried about. She couldn’t see very well and had had a terrible headache for three days. She didn’t know what to do so she phoned the NHS non-emergency number. It was a weekend. The out of hours GP examined Susan’s eye and advised her to go to an eye hospital. She ended up going earlier than the appointment time given to her because she was so worried. It ended up being a very rare eye condition:
The out of hours GP and walk-in centres are health services that can be used when the problem isn’t an emergency or life-threatening. It saves people having to go to Accident and Emergency (A&E), which is for more serious problems or injuries. If someone has an injury that isn’t serious, they can get help from a minor injuries unit (MIU) or urgent care centre (UCC) rather than going to A&E. This allows A&E staff to concentrate on people with serious problems and saves people from a potentially long wait.

Minor Injury Units (MIUs) are nurse-led services that treat injuries such as strains, sprains, and broken bones. No appointment is needed. If necessary, some people might be referred to specialist services or to a GP. Minor injuries include:

•    simple ear, nose and eye complaints
•    nose bleeds
•    minor bumps to the head
•    sprains, broken bones, fractures, and dislocated fingers
•    minor burns, cuts and bruises
•    bites and stings


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