When should you go to the doctor?
Find an expert - Who are you going to call?
While it can be a good resource for lifestyle tips, the internet is never the right place for a medical diagnosis. Here’s where to go to make sure you’re getting the health advice you need...
Your medicine cabinet
A well stocked medicine cabinet can help you to be prepared for many common ailments - colds, headaches and minor injuries. The NHS offers useful advice on what should be your essentials here. Your local pharmacist may also be able to recommend things to keep in your medicine cabinet and first aid kit.
Benenden Health GP 24/7 Helpline
This is available to all Benenden Health members and their immediate families. Make an appointment day or night for a telephone or e-consultation and you can discuss your medical concerns with a GP who can advise on a diagnosis and the best course of action. Although the GP can prescribe some medications over the phone (charges apply), they cannot make referrals to specialists or for further tests. To make an appointment, call 0800 414 8247 with your membership number to hand.
NHS 111 is for when you urgently need medical help or advice, but it’s not a life-threatening situation – for example, when you think you’ve broken your leg or the person you’re with is acting in a very confused manner. You will be put through to a fully trained adviser who will assess the symptoms. Depending on what’s needed, the adviser might then send an ambulance for you, direct you to a local service, connect you to a nurse or GP, or give you self-care advice.
Pharmacists don’t just issue prescriptions, they can also give advice on minor illnesses such as sore throats, coughs, colds, flu, hay fever, earache, stomach complaints, skin rashes, cystitis, thrush, and aches and pains. You don’t need to make an appointment to see a pharmacist, you can just walk in. If the pharmacist thinks you need to see a GP they’ll tell you. Some pharmacists even have private consultation rooms so you don’t have to have embarrassing conversations on the shop floor.
An appointment with your GP
If a pharmacist can’t help, and you don’t need urgent emergency care, you’ll need to make an appointment to see your NHS GP. They can diagnose illnesses and conditions, prescribe medications, refer you on for specialist care or tests, and manage chronic conditions. They can also carry out minor surgeries such as removing skin tags or cysts, clean up infected wounds, change dressings and administer injections for complaints such as painful joints.
The accident and emergency department is for just that – genuine life-threatening emergencies such as severe illness, bleeding, a loss of consciousness, chest pains, breathing difficulties, poisoning or major trauma. Ambulance crews will take patients to A&E but you can also go by yourself if your condition requires it.
Keep 999 for when there’s an acute medical emergency and someone’s life is at risk. For some conditions, such as a suspected heart attack or stroke, every second counts so call immediately.