Seeing a Doctor

The doctor you’ll see most often will be a General Practitioner (GP). They’ll help you with everyday illnesses and refer you to specialists for more complicated issues

GPs are trained to deal with a wide variety of health questions, illnesses and injuries. If you have had a serious accident or illness you should go to the Accident & Emergency department at your nearest hospital.

Your GP will be the first person you see if you feel ill or have a medical question. They’ll assess you and refer you to a specialist if you need to see one. For example, if you have a problem with your eyes that’s causing you headaches they may send you to see an optician.

You’ll usually see your GP at their surgery. Some offer home visits for people who are too unwell to come to an appointment.

How to see a GP

First you’ll need to register with a surgery, you’ll probably need your NHS number before you can register. Find your nearest doctor’s surgery and then check out their website or call them to arrange to register.

Some surgeries let you make your appointment online but you can always call or go in to make an appointment.

The receptionist will ask you whether you need to see a doctor urgently. They may offer you a same day appointment. If you don’t need an emergency appointment you may have to wait a week or so to see your doctor or make a  telephone appointment, where the doctor will call you to discuss your problem.


The receptionist might ask you what you want to speak to the doctor about. Everything you tell the staff at a doctor’s surgery is treated confidentially. This means they keep your information private and will not discuss it with anyone unless they have your permission.