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GP appointments, what is 'emergency', 'routine' and how long would you expect to wait for a slot?

(74 Posts)
AtYourCervix Wed 16-Oct-13 14:42:37

If you need to see a GP how long do you normally wait?

Also - what would you class as an emergency or routine?

to my mind an emergency is really ill, damaged or infected and needs to be seen like today, but not life threatening, needing to go to A&E.

I'm not any of the above but the next available appointment is November 4th. I could be dead by then.
It's no wonder people go to A&E with sore elbows and flu and stuff.

AtYourCervix Wed 16-Oct-13 14:43:36

what if you had a lump or something?

is that an emergency? or would you wait 3 weeks for it to be checked?

AtYourCervix Wed 16-Oct-13 14:44:55

and what if you had a sore foot? said foot has hurt for a week now, not screaming painful, not broke, not oozing or bleeding, but on and off quite unable to walk on it and really very sore.

what then? is that an emergency? or routine?

gamerchick Wed 16-Oct-13 14:45:51

Well tbh you shouldn't go to the GPs with flu either. Keep your lurgy in the house.

I made an appointment last week . to see mine and earliest appointment was 30th October. It's great fun.

AtYourCervix Wed 16-Oct-13 14:46:09

I love GPs, I love the free, warm, electric-with-running-water NHS. But really, what's the point?

I'd say a lump is an emergency and would want it checked well before 3 weeks time. Our gp is rubbish, you have to call at 8am for a same day "emergency" appointment or wait weeks on end to see anyone. It's so hard getting a normal appointment and very inconvenient for the same day ones as they are sit and wait...This usually means sitting there in a packed waiting room for about 2 hours to be seen for something that takes a few minutes.

I hate going there and often use the walk in centre 9 miles away to avoid this stupid system.

Lottiedoubtie Wed 16-Oct-13 14:48:23

If you're worried it's an emergency in my book. Phone at 8 be seen that day.

Never been 'told off' for wasting doctors time yet.

If its an 'asthma review' it can wait 2 weeks- or at least mine can, if you're worried, see above.

Routine for ongoing stuff or asking for a referral for something persistent. my gp will always see you same day for 'emergency' if you say it's urgent
you are an hcp so if you think it's urgent request an emergency apptgrin

I have to admit our surgery is very good. They tend to give you an appointment same day or within a day or 2, though it might have to be with the nurse (who can write prescriptions if needed).

One thing that is difficult though is trying to get a 'routine' appointment. It's fine if you know what the current system is for booking them but if not then you end up in a loop of phoning to be told they're all booked and to phone back. The surgery are really bad at informing patients when they should be booking stuff like this and there's no consistency. e.g. There was a man there the other day wanting to book a (routine) blood test and was told he couldn't have one for a month as they get released 4 weeks in advance and get booked up quickly. "4 weeks? Well, can I book one then?" says the man. "Yes, we can give you an appointment on Thursday" says the receptionist confused

AtYourCervix Wed 16-Oct-13 14:51:14

I have no idea what constitutes a GP emergency.

my normal mantra is 'It's either get better of turn into something serious'.

but, it's not better and obviously I can't not walk for the next 3 weeks.

but it's also not a sudden, acute, help i'm dying emergency,.

Weeantwee Wed 16-Oct-13 14:51:40

I was in the GP surgery this morning, waited an hour to be seen. Fortunately my surgery have an open access hour every morning so you definitely get to see a doctor but you have to be prepared to wait.

Unfortunately, as I am moving next week I've been told that I'm no longer in their catchment area and so will have to find a new GP surgery after being with them for 9 years.

I'm moving round the corner from my previous flat. Now that is annoying!

everlong Wed 16-Oct-13 14:53:52

My GP has the following service. You ring up and are told that they fully booked for about 8 days but if you ring in the morning bang on 8am you will get an appointment for 2 days later.

Don't ask me how this works.

AtYourCervix Wed 16-Oct-13 14:56:34

it's really quite sore.

toobreathless Wed 16-Oct-13 14:57:45

Emergency: anything that needs to be seen acutely due to potential seriousness- unwell child or where there is potential to deteriorate if not seen quickly and treated- worsening asthma, skin infections etc.

Routine: things that can wait, reviews of stable conditions.

If there weren't any appointments for several weeks I would happily see anything that might be causing significant worry in the meantime. I would hate to think of people worrying for several weeks.

And absolutely 'new lump' should be seen soon, I would say within 3 days, if no routine appts as an emergency.

GhostsInSnow Wed 16-Oct-13 14:58:55

Call at 8am and 90% of the time you will get a same day appointment, if not they can often arrange a GP to telephone you. They open 8-8 Monday to friday and 8-1pm on a Saturday.

Our surgery uses the Patient Access system as well and I can usually get a pre bookable appointment on the app within a couple of days if I'm not fussy in which GP I see. We are quite lucky really, good practice, long hours and several GP's. My old practice you could wait a week for an emergency appointment.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Wed 16-Oct-13 14:59:07

At my parents GP surgery you have to ring up for an appointment and the GP phones you back to decide if you really need it.

Our GP tends to be fully booked 6 weeks in advance, you can't book any appointments with in that 6 week period unless the GP is standing next to the receptionist insisting that you are seen in that time frame.
You are supposed to call at 7.30 am for emergencies but all appointments have gone by this time so the only way to get to see a GP that day is to go to the surgery when the staff walk in.
Thankfully some of the GPs understand the problems and you can visit them at other surgeries around the town, if it is something they really really need to see you about.

newfavouritething Wed 16-Oct-13 15:05:00

The surgery that I use is shocking! - In so much that you phone for an appointment and you get one that day - yesterday I had one in 20 minutes time from the phonecall. It's open 8am til 8pm everyday although 'only' has a nurse practitioner there at the weekend. It still surprises me when I get an appointment instead of questions, but if my surgery can do it, why can't others?

BrokenSunglasses Wed 16-Oct-13 15:11:09

Sore foot or lump I'd expect to be seen within a week. Neither are an emergency, but they're not routine either. I'd say routine appointments would be for check ups related to long term conditions or medication.

Our surgery is quite good. You can get an appointment the same day if you need to, and they run a minor illness clinic for things like ear/throat infections that the nurse can diagnose and treat.

It's a pain in the arse when you do want a routine appointment though, because the GP has to give them out rather than you just booking with the receptionist. I'd rather know that we can get an appointment the same day if we need it though, and they offer telephone appointments if you're not sure.

turkeyboots Wed 16-Oct-13 15:12:39

I can always get emergency appointment same day. Emergency being infection, fainting or needing ill child checked over. Routine appointments have a 2 to 3 week wait generally. So I never go unless am seriously ill.

Groovee Wed 16-Oct-13 15:15:29

At our surgery you can prebook. My GP is often a 3 week wait. But if I can't wait, I can call from 8am to attempt to get a same day appointment. If they don't have any left you can get a GP to call you and decide if a prescription can be handed over the phone or else they can allocate you one of the appointment which is kept for being seen.

violetbean Wed 16-Oct-13 15:17:57

Weeantwee, we had the same issue re moving house but we wrote a letter to the practice manager asking to stay with the practice and they said we could, as we were only just outside the catchment area. (Not sure if my being pregnant influenced their decision though). Might be worth a try?

vladthedisorganised Wed 16-Oct-13 15:23:13

I get really confused about this too.
I'm pretty happy that small child with really high temperature = urgent; asthmatic with chesty cough and possible chest infection = urgent; anyone receiving chemotherapy with any possible problem = straight to the top of the queue.

Anything to do with me though, and I'm never sure. Profuse bleeding is the one area where I feel happy saying 'I really need to see someone today'. I'd say an unexplained lump is urgent though; it'll put your mind at rest to get seen today.

Our surgery is 'call at 8am for all appointments' - you can't book in advance unless the doctor has requested a follow up, and even then you might well be told to call first thing in the morning for a possible same-day appointment. You may be given an appointment on the same day, or 2 days later, or 2 weeks later; I think they prioritise anyone who says it's urgent, but in all cases you have to be ready to come in on the day, or not. It must drive the receptionists barmy.

If I need an appointment it is usually a two week wait but I have always been able to get an emergency appointment the same day as long as I phone up at 7:30am/8am.

I have asthma and get quite a lot of chest infections so I have been a few times.

For other things where I'm not sure then I usually pop into the walk in centre as there are 2 in town and you generally get seen very quickly.

notso Wed 16-Oct-13 15:46:56

If it's an emergency then you need A+E breathing difficulties would be A+E.
Urgent would be something that needed seeing to that day, I have used urgent appointments for tonsillitis, lump on breast and a baby with bronchiolitis. For these at my GP you phone on the stroke of 8am but they have squeezed us in later when DS1 was delirious with a fever and given a prescription for AB's for DD's recurrent tonsillitis when we couldn't book an appointment.
Routine, would be a review of medication or similar, these are always about a 3 week wait at my GP.
I think there needs to be a non urgent but quicker than routine appointment.

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