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Dr Bilas

75 Griffiths Drive

Make The Most Out Of Your Appointment

When you go to see your GP, you only have about ten minutes to tell them what is wrong, for them to understand, and decide on what actions are to take place, so it is important to make the most out of your appointment.

Prepare relevant information before your consultation by:

Researching your symptoms

Try to use a reliable web site such as NHS Direct, NHS Choices, patient.co.uk or GP notebook. Your gut instinct can be a powerful indicator of what is wrong. But try not to come to any conclusions before seeing your doctor. Type in a list of symptoms and the worst-case scenario always comes up as cancer, which is relatively rare, and this can cause unnecessary anxiety.

Prioritise your problems

If there is something that really concerns you, say it first, even if it's embarrassing. Your doctor won't be embarrassed in the least because the chances are we've seen it many times before. Ideally, focus on one complaint per appointment.

Explain what is happening

Tell your GP your story, preferably in note form, which can be read much more quickly.
Think about when you last felt well and what has happened since then.
Write a list of your symptoms.
For each:
describe their characteristics, severity, duration
when do they occur
what aggravates and what relieves your symptoms
any medication or treatments you may have taken and for how long
This information plays a major part in the process of arriving at a diagnosis.
Although findings arising from your examination by your doctor and subsequent tests, may instantly change your management. The practice of medicine can be likened to a detective story, with hidden surprises. Keep an open mind, listen carefully to the clues in your symptoms, your doctor's understanding of the situation, correct any misunderstandings on his or her part, so that valuable time is not wasted.
Write down what questions you have, before the your next consultation

If, for whatever reason you are unable to provide written information in relation to your symptoms then you could ask a friend or family member to make a note of them on your behalf or simply explain your symptoms to the doctor when you attend for your consultation.

Ask questions . . .

.  .  . and share any concerns. If a friend or family member has had similar symptoms or you're worried about something you have read in a newspaper or seen on television, just ask. Either it will give your doctor more clues as to the problem, or they may be able to put your mind at ease.

Return . . .

.  .  . if things don't improve. If you have persisting symptoms and they don't improve, don't ignore them. They may evolve and a diagnosis will become clearer over time.
Don't ever feel you are being a bother. Try to see the same doctor on a return visit for the same complaint. This helps to build up a full picture of what is happening. The GP may be able to give you a timeframe as to how long symptoms should or shouldn't last.

Explore other options

If you are unhappy with any explanation, please ask your GP what else it could be or to rationalise their diagnosis. We will be happy to go through available national medical guidelines.
If you remain unconvinced, please seek a second opinion from another doctor at the practice, who may have a special interest in that medical condition.

By following these simple steps you give yourself and your doctor the best chance of getting the diagnosis right and reducing any delay in treatment

The Department of Health estimates that 10,000 deaths a years could be avoided if cancers were diagnosed earlier. Take advantage of any screening programmes available. Thousands of lives are saved annually with the free tests offered for bowel, breast and cervical cancers. Make sure you are registered with your local GP so that the surgery can invite you to a relevant test. It is also worth knowing signs of common diseases to be concerned about.