We all know how hard it can be to get an emergency GP appointment; waking up early in the morning, preparing yourself to call, but somehow you find the line is consistently busy and remains busy.
There are lots of reasons why you may want or need an emergency appointment. For instance, when you wake up early in the morning and you are feeling unwell but not unwell enough to warrant going to the Accident and Emergency, perhaps you need to see your doctor because of travel commitments or you simply are unable to wait for a routine appointment. For many reasons, lots of us will find ourselves needing to book an emergency GP appointment. It is important to know that there are only a small number of emergency appointment slots each day. Most people who have ever had to call a GP surgery to book an emergency appointment will know from experience that it’s incredibly difficult to get through. However, one of the ways you can get an emergency appointment is by physically going to the GP surgery at its opening times. Although there is no guarantee that you will get your preferred time slot, but at least you have a greater chance of seeing the doctor. Although this might be troublesome, especially when you are poorly, nonetheless, it will save you waiting around on the phone, you will find out quickly whether you can see your GP at your preferred time and, importantly, you can plan the rest of your day accordingly. Below are steps you can take to better prepare yourself if you plan to book an emergency appointment directly at the GP surgery or over the telephone:
- Getting someone else to go for you – You could get someone to go for you to book the appointment, an adult or even a responsible young person.
- Going to the GP surgery yourself – If you don’t have anyone to go and book the appointment for you, and you have to go yourself, wake up early in the morning, prepare the clothes you are going to wear and, if you are single parent, prepare the children, take food for yourself and children in case you have to wait at the GP surgery before your allocated appointment slot. Take food which is not messy and easy to nibble on, just to hold you until you return home.
- Arrive early- Everyone wants an early slot, so there are going to be people who are willing to come slightly earlier than the opening time to be first in the queue to be seen. Appointments are on a first come first served basis.
- Wrap up warm– Make sure you wrap up warm in the cold seasons because you never know how long you might have to wait for the surgery to open
If you prefer to book your appointment by telephone, these are the steps you need to take:
- Call at the exact time– Start calling the GP surgery at the exact specified time for emergency appointment slots; calling a few seconds before the opening time will take you through to the GP answering machine and allow other callers to go straight through while you are listening to the message
- Keep calling back – Keep the telephone or mobile near you and keep calling back every 5 minutes if the line is busy
- Prepare yourself– Even though you are not guaranteed to get an appointment slot when you call, prepare yourself so that you are ready to go to the GP surgery should you be given an appointment slot straight away. The last thing you want is to go through all the hassle to get an appointment and then you end up not being seen because you are late.
These all seem really extreme measures to take, just to book a GP appointment. However, when you are unwell and can’t afford to take a day off work, but need to see your doctor on a specific day and time, or when you have travel commitments which can’t be cancelled or missed or you have an important meeting or an exam that cannot be re-schudeled but need medication that can only be prescribed by your doctor, then these measures to see the doctor become justified.
It’s important to know your preferred option when you intend to book your emergency appointment so that you can prepare accordingly. Prepare as much as you can especially that which can be prepared the night before (e. g. clothes, food or childcare).