There are four things you can do to help your family doctor provide the best kind of health care for you and your family - and be there when you most need help.

  • Check you know how our out-of-hours system works.

  • Ask yourself if it can safely wait until morning or Monday.    Minor illnesses rarely need urgent treatment.  If though you feel it may not be safe to wait, or you are not sure, then ring out-of-hours number 111.  Sometimes advice on the phone might be all you need.  If you need medical care the doctor will discuss with you when and where you will receive it.

  • Try to get to the surgery during normal surgery hours.  If you are to unwell to travel to your surgery, you can phone your surgery and ask for a home visit.  Contact the surgery as early as you can after opening so that your doctors can plan their visits.  But, if at all possible try to make an appointment to visit at the surgery where facilities and equipment allow a much better examination.  A doctor can also see several patients in the same time it takes to make one home visit.

  • Keep advice on minor ailments handy.  You can obtain a free copy of 'The NHS Home Healthcare Guide' at the surgery.  There is much information and literature available at the surgery which you are welcome to collect and use for reference in your home.  There are also medicines available at your local pharmacy that may help you.  Most people can be very good at treating minor illnesses and can recognise when a doctor is really needed.  You can work very well in partnership with your doctor to look after your own and your family's health.  This helps build a better family doctor's service as it means your doctor has more time to spend on ill patients - perhaps you.

Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website