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Book a doctor’s appointment

Book a doctor's appointment - photo of the torso of a man wearing a stethescope

What’s the Idea?

If you’re experiencing low mood, depression, or anxiety, you should book a doctor’s appointment. Appointments are available during lockdown

What’s the story

The Coronavirus lockdowns are having a profound effect on a lot of people’s mental health.

Having suffered from bouts of depression and anxiety in the past, I know how important talking to a doctor is.

However, it’s hard to find information about how book a doctor’s appointment during the Coronavirus lockdowns.

So I wanted to make sure people knew what to do.

People should do this because…?

If you are feeling low and it’s been going on for some time or getting worse, then it is vital you book a doctor’s appointment.

It’s very easy to think that how you’re feeling is not as important as all the other stuff that is going on in the world right now.

But it’s not true.

Your feelings are as valid as anyone else’s and you have the right to treatment.

Also, if conditions such as depression are not treated, they can get much worse and need a much longer recovery time.

If you book a doctor’s appointment quickly, then it will be easier to help you.

How do you do it?

How to book a doctor’s appointment

Doctors’ surgeries are largely still open so you should still be able to book an appointment via phone or even online.

However, as much as possible, appointments are taking place by phone or over video-link (like Zoom).

It’s really important that you don’t go to the surgery without phoning first.

If you need face-to-face treatment, then your doctors will book you a GP or nurse appointment.

In this instance obviously it is fine to visit the surgery, as long as you don’t have symptoms of Coronavirus.

Symptoms could be:

  • Fever
  • Persistent cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Shaking
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Extreme tiredness

If you think you have symptoms of Coronavirus, then you should first use the NHS COVID-19 symptom checker:

https://111.nhs.uk/service/covid-19/

If, following that, it looks like you might have Coronavirus, try not to worry, and call the NHS on 111 as soon as you can.

They will tell you what to do next.

You MUST self-isolate, so please don’t leave the house or let anyone into your house, unless they are a medical professional.

If you book a face-to-face doctor’s appointment

If you book a doctor’s appointment and you need to visit the surgery in person, you should still observe social distancing and hygiene protocols.

Most importantly:

  1. Keep 2 metres distance from other people
  2. If you need to cough or sneeze, do so into your elbow, or a tissue which you throw away immediately
  3. Try not to touch your face
  4. Wash your hands frequently, for at least 20 seconds

(You can see how to wash your hands properly here.)

If your doctor’s surgery is closed, or you can’t get hold of them

The vast majority of doctors’ surgeries are open, so hopefully you won’t have a problem.

However, in the unlikely event that you can’t speak to someone, your next port of call is NHS 111.

Just dial 111 from any phone.

You will be connected to a medical professional who will be able to assess your symptoms and offer advice as to what to do next.

You can also assess your symptoms on the NHS 111 website, if you don’t want to call, or there are long wait times.

You can access the NHS 111 symptom checker here.  https://111.nhs.uk/

Please also see our articles:

What to do if you’re not registered with a doctors’ surgery

If you’re not currently registered with a surgery but you need to book a doctor’s appointment, don’t worry.

Doctor’s surgeries are still accepting new registrations.

You can find a surgery by visiting the NHS’s GP finder page:

https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/find-a-gp/

Once you have found a surgery near you, there should be instructions on the Practice’s page as to how to register.

What to do if you’re feeling really low, or can’t get a doctor’s appointment quickly

If you’re feeling very down, depressed, or anxious, it’s really important that you speak to someone as soon as possible.

Usually your doctor will prioritise an appointment in this instance.

However, if for some reason, you’re unable to speak to someone quickly, then there are a number of excellent charities you can call.

The Samaritans in particular is a very supportive, confidential, and non-judgemental service, which is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You can reach them on 116 123.

If things escalate and you start to experience extreme anxiety or suicidal thoughts, then you should call 999 straight away.

Suicidal thoughts are more common than you think, however they are very serious and should be treated.

So it’s vital to get help as soon as possible.

Stuff you may need

  • Phone
  • Possibly a laptop, tablet or smartphone

Links to other Stuffer pages

Take the NHS depression test

Take the NHS anxiety test

Links to other articles on the web

https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/talk-us-phone/

Links to other videos on the web

Links to apps

https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/the-nhs-app/

Links to books

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