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BLOG: How choosing the right healthcare service can help you and the NHS

30 January 2019


When you’ve been feeling under the weather for a few days, it’s only natural to want to see a doctor. But making a GP appointment is not always the best or quickest way of getting medical help, as I recently discovered. 

I was experiencing some unpleasant symptoms and as a former nurse suspected I had a urinary tract infection (UTI). I went to my GP surgery and spoke to the receptionist who suggested that instead of making an appointment to see my GP, I should see the practice nurse. This I did and was seen in 30 minutes.

The nurse checked my temperature, pulse and blood pressure which were all within normal limits. However, a check on my urine sample revealed an infection and she explained I would need to take a course of antibiotics. After asking if I was allergic to any antibiotics, which I’m not, she printed the prescription and took it to the doctor to be signed. I went away and started to feel better within a few days.

This highlights the excellent healthcare you can receive from the nursing staff at your GP surgery. Many people don’t realise that modern nurses are highly trained healthcare professionals who can diagnose and treat a wide range of minor complaints. Often they can see you quicker than your GP can, which means you will be on the road to recovery much sooner.

My experience also shows how receptionists at surgeries can help direct patients to the help they need. Whether you’re speaking to a receptionist over the phone or face-to-face, by describing your symptoms they will be able to offer advice on who is the best healthcare professional to see.

I’m sure everyone has seen the news reports about the increased demand on NHS services during the winter months. Having worked in the NHS for many years I know how tough it can be. But we can all play a part in helping relieve this pressure simply by visiting the right healthcare service for the illnesses we have – which does not always involve going to see your GP or visiting A&E.

Another group of healthcare professionals who are often overlooked by patients are pharmacists. Available on every high street, they can provide excellent help and advice on a whole range of medical conditions. I also have experience within my own family of how good they are.   

My adult son arrived at my house one Saturday with a badly inflamed and sore eye. We discussed whether he needed to make an appointment to see his GP the following week but agreed it would be worth seeing what a pharmacist had to say first. The pharmacist thought my son was suffering from a minor allergic reaction and recommended an over-the-counter product. The treatment was a success and his eye was fine in a couple of days.

By going to the pharmacist my son received treatment much sooner than had he waited to see his GP, saving himself several days of discomfort. But if the pharmacist had not been able to help and was concerned for my son’s health, he would have been able to advise him on where to go for treatment.  

So the next time you or a member of your family is feeling unwell, think carefully about the different healthcare options available. By making the right choice, not only could you or your loved one be feeling better faster, you will helping the NHS too. And that will be good for everyone’s health.


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