General Practitioners (GPs) are the doctors who look after your health from when you are born all the way through for the rest of your life. They deal with a whole range of health problems, working with professionals from almost every other health service, so are a very important source of information and guidance.
They are also usually the best place to start if you or a member of your family has a health concern.
You may need to see a doctor for a lot of different of reasons, including:
- Infections, viruses or general illness
- Physical injuries, aches, pains or sore joints
- Feeling sad or unhappy about something in life
- Contraception, pregnancy and sexual health
- Need help with staying healthy such as diet and smoking.
If you are not sure what is wrong but need advice, support or guidance on what to do next, contact your doctor. If your doctor cannot deal with a problem, then they will usually refer you to a hospital for tests, treatment, or to see a consultant with specialist knowledge.
The only time when you might go straight to hospital is if you thought there was an emergency putting someone’s life at risk, or if you had been involved in an accident and thought you had broken a bone or needed stitches urgently.
GPs usually work in practices as part of a team that includes nurses, healthcare assistants, practice managers, receptionists and other staff. Practices also work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as health visitors, midwives, mental health services and social care.
For more information visit the NHS choices website