We've had hundreds of threads about how to evaluate potential schools for our dc, but none on how to search for/choose a doctor. What do you look for when considering a private and/or NHS doctor?(17 Posts)
Thinking of how to evaluate/choose a GP atm, but would be interested in thoughts about how to select a specialist doctor also.
For private and NHS doctors:
How do you search?
What do you look for?
How do you evaluate and pick the doctor/practise that (you feel) is best for you?
you search on the NHS website for surgeries nearby
I look for surgeries with a number of doctors in case you see one doc and you think they are not right for you. You can see any doc at the practice regardless of who you are registered with.
I changed my doctor when I went to see her at the start of my first pg. Had the beginnings of severe hyperemesis and asked for a sicknote. She treated me as though I wanted to live off sick pay and benefits . Needless to say, I changed surgeries and new GP wanted me hospitalised immediately and signed 3 months worth of sicknotes without me even asking.
To an extent you have to take potluck when choosing an NHS GP, because most won't take you if you are out of catchment.
1: "Can I get there easily if I have to push a buggy/take a poorly child there in the rain?". Parking helps!
2: "How many GPs work there, and can I see any of them?" The advantage to a multi-GP practice is that you can try several GPs and generally find one with whom you feel comfortable. I also prefer them to use a small pool of locums, rather than just take anybody that the agency sends, because, again, you have the chance to get to know them and build up a relationship.
3: "How long to I have to wait for an appointment, and what happens in an emergency or for something urgent?" It's fa more important for me to be able to be seen quickly, than to be able to make an appointment for some point in the future. Saturday surgeries are also far more important to me than evening surgeries.
I find the nearest big practice and sign up with them. Then I just try the different doctors in the practice and keep asking for one we like.
never had to choose a specialist
number of GPs (ours has 5 or 6, easier to get appt than with singlehander)
appt system - less important but our surgery does have an 8am call in- you can take under-5's at 8.30am without an appt.
private - n/a
oh yes, baby clinic
nurses appts for things like smears, asthma clinic etc (if applicable)
dh lives where he was a student and is still a patient at his doctors at the uni
He can always get an appointment
We have a gp over the road from us but it is only open mon, wed and fri mornings so me and the kids are with a gp in town
Interesting that most of the comments relate to location, hours and other issues associated with accessibility/convenience. No doubt, those are important but I want a doctor who listens and is responsive, who inspires confidence, is compassionate and conveys concern about my/dc's wellbeing, and generally available when needed.
Are they are a teaching practice?
Good sign of keeping up with things
Do they offer specialist services? Midwifery/surgical/child clinic etc
Are they appraochable?
Do they have a patient inclusive appraoch meanning that if you go in will they discuss with you or just tell you?
I have been with same one practice because accidently chose one of best on city, it has one to one midwifery care and surgical in house specialism and baby clinics and student training. I rate these things therefore.
Nice doctors who listen etc are easier to find in larger practices with more gps.
You actually have a choice? We sure didn't where we lived in london....you take whichever gp has a space and if there wasn't one with a space (often happened) you have to wait for the local trust to assign you one, but they only have to keep you for 3 months and then you ahve to go through the whole thing again.
Having said that, I think that for the most part I found younger doctors to be generally helpful, friendly and knowledgeable. The biggest issue for me was unhelpful staff who wouldn't let you get through to the gp or make an emergency appointment when your child was ill.
I think I visited our last surgery once in the year that we were registered, and that was for a smear test. If you have good health and visit rarely for minor issues then I think location and accessibility are all that really matters. Other factors are difficult to ascertain until you have some experience of using the practice. Asking your neighbours is a good way to get a vibe, but it is very personal. Obviously if you or any of your family have any chronic illnesses it is a different matter. NHS choices is good for telling you what surgeries you can access (gives distances and whether the practice is accepting new patients).
I am happy if my local surgery has several doctors, a nurse (more than one is good), and when you visit, friendly receptionists, a good atmosphere and a clean and relatively pleasant waiting room. There are a number of quality schemes GP practices can be a part of, so certificates on the wall are worth looking out for (the schemes run by the Royal College of General Practice are excellent, and only very good practices even attempt them). You could also try looking on the local PCT's web site and see if you can access any reports on local practice performance, how they did on the Quality and Outcomes Framework, what the results of their patient surveys was etc. This information may or may not be available, depending on local arrangements.
I also use my professional networks, just to check the practice isn't on any blacklists, but this is very confidential information!
For specialists it is difficult to access much information on individuals, so I would tend to ask about as to the reputation of the department, but as all our local hospitals are major teaching and research trusts, that's not really a major problem. again I would ask around to see if anyone I knew had views, but I can only do that because I work with a bunch of opinionated doctors and nurses
GP - location/who has space on the list. All the ones I know of are practices with 4-8 doctors so if you find one is partic unhelpful, you just ask for an appointment with someone else. We don't use them much though, thank goodness.
Specialist - When DD had to have specialist help, a consultant was assigned. I spent hours searching for info on him - found someone's blog where they talked about his care of their daughter, specialistinfo website and speaking to a neighbour found that he was the paed for her grandaughter. All 'references' were good but the biggie was that when we spoke his attitude was very much about listening, evaluating and helping find solutions than telling iyswim.
Most practices round here have several Drs. You can register with one, this is likely to be allocated to you, but you will be unlikely to see the one you're registered to most of the time.
I have some favourites at the practice and some I avoid...you'll get a good idea about their attitude and so on when you ahve seen them a few times.
For instance one of ours is very gentle especially with children, another is excellent on up to date stuff, most of them have children themselves which is always a good thing if you're taking yours -
You can then try to see whichever you reckon will deal best with the ailment/concern of the moment.
I usually avoid my registered Dr as he is so unsympathetic and brusque - refused me anything for morning sickness etc. and quite likes to have a row! - but at the moment I'm dealing with c diff and he is so on the case it's brilliant. He is very dynamic and quite dogmatic and actually showed some sympathy as well the other day which was a bonus...
Go for a large practice and then you'll be able to vary who you see.
Btw it helps that my mother used to be a secretary there so knows a bit about all of the GPs
she says 'Oh you need that one' or 'God, don't see her about that!'
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