GPs - Frequently Asked Questions

GP practices in Wales provide services under contract to?Health Boards. As well as giving advice about health and illnesses, GPs might also provide contraceptive services, vaccinations, maternity services and minor surgery.? Some practices may choose to offer further services such as travel vaccinations, care of the homeless or specialised sexual health services. 

Each GP practice will have produced a practice leaflet outlining what services and care can be expected.? 

How do I find and register with a GP?
To find a GP you should contact the NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership in your area and ask for 'Contractor Services' which will be able to provide you with a list of GP’s in your area. A recommendation from friends and neighbours may also be helpful. Local practices will produce an information leaflet and may have a website. To register with a GP you should contact your chosen practice and ask to be included on their patient list. You will be asked for your NHS medical card details or to fill in a form at the surgery which will enable your medical records to be transferred there.

What do I do if I’ve lost my medical card?
If you lose your NHS medical card you should contact your regional NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership which can arrange for a replacement. Please note medical cards are no longer being issued. If you have lost your card and request a new one you will receive a letter instead of a new card which will include your NHS details.

Can a surgery refuse to register me?
For a surgery to refuse registration, it must have sufficient grounds for doing so. For example, you may live outside the area covered by the surgery or they may have closed their patient list. You should receive an explanation if your registration request is refused. If you can’t find a GP to register with, please contact your regional NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership and ask for 'Contractor Services', who should be able to direct you to an alternative practice.

How do I change my GP and do I have to give a reason?
 You do not have to give an explanation if you want to change your GP. To change your GP you can contact the surgery you wish to register with and, if they agree to take you on, you will need to give them your medical card.  Once you have registered, your medical records will be forwarded to your new GP practice.

Can I be removed from the practice register?
If you move out of the area covered by the practice or have been verbally or physically abusive to people at the surgery you may be removed from their patient list. You should normally receive a warning and explanation before this takes place, unless you have been violent towards staff, in which case you can be removed from the list with immediate effect.

What can I expect from my GP practice?
 GP practices must provide a practice leaflet describing the services available to their patients, including details of surgery times, availability of home visits, clinics etc. Most practices aim to see non-urgent cases within two days, although waiting times will vary according to the size of the practice.

The clinical services offered by GP practices are classified into three categories: essential, additional and enhanced. The practice leaflet should contain further information regarding the category of services being offered.

Can my GP charge me for certain services?
GPs do not charge for basic NHS treatment for UK residents, although they may do so for certain categories of overseas visitor in non-emergency cases. Some GP services, such as travel vaccinations or medical reports for employers or insurance purposes, are not covered by the NHS and are charged for.

Can I request a home-visit from my GP?
Your practice leaflet should explain their criteria for home visits but, ultimately, you can’t insist on a home visit. Generally, a home visit will only be available if a GP feels that a patient’s medical condition warrants it.

How can I access a GP when my surgery is closed?
If you require a GP after surgery hours you should telephone your surgery and listen to the recorded message which should direct you to the out of hours service covering your practice.

Can I get a second medical opinion?
You do not have an automatic right to a second opinion but if you are not happy with your GP’s decision you can request to see another GP or a hospital-based specialist for further advice. If your GP is in agreement, an appointment can then be arranged.
Am I entitled to see my Medical Records?
You are entitled to access your medical records under the Data Protection Act (1998). You can make an informal request to view your medical records by contacting the Practice Manager directly. However, practices can insist that you make a formal request in writing, to which they must respond within 40 days. Access can be refused under certain circumstances. Further information on obtaining access to your health records can be found under our leaflet 'Your information, Your rights'.

How do I register as a temporary patient whilst in the UK?
If you need a GP while away from home, you can visit another practice. Any GP can treat you as a temporary patient. If you are away for longer than 24 hours and think you need to see a GP, contact a local surgery via telephone first. Alternatively, here in Wales, telephone NHS 111 Wales where a Nurse Adviser may be able to help with your problem. If you are going to be away from home for 3 months or more, you should register with a GP at your new address as soon as possible.

What should I do if I want to complain about my GP?

The NHS Wales operates an independent process for raising concerns and complaints called ‘Putting Things Right’ More information on the ‘Putting Things Right’ process can be found here.

Under Putting Things Right, if you wish to complain about any aspect of the services provided by your GP practice, you should raise these concerns directly with your GP practice, or via the practice manager, within 12  months of the incident or problem occurring. If you do not want to deal with the practice directly, you can contact the concerns team at your local Health Board  instead. Your local Community Health Council can also provide free confidential advice and support to patients who have a complaint about NHS services.

If you are not satisfied with the final response to your complaint, you can address your complaint directly to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales. The Ombudsman is independent of all government bodies and the service provided is impartial and free of charge. You can find out more about the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales by viewing the website of The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales.         

Where can I get archived GP records?

An information booklet created by NHS Wales discusses 'Your Information, Your Rights, What you need to know’.

Primary Care Services provide a range of services including archiving medical records for people who are not registered with a GP practice.

Contact information for their offices are available in full here. They will be able to signpost you to the most appropriate base. Records are currently held at the different bases throughout Wales depending on which is closest to the GP practice the patient was last registered with.

Useful Numbers and Links 
For further information about GPs and their services, please telephone NHS 111 Wales and speak to a Health Information Adviser or use our?Online Enquiry Service. 

Alternatively, you can contact the?NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership?in your region and ask to speak to?'Contractor Services'. Please follow this link to the?NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership?contact page?to find the relevant phone?number. 

External links: 

Royal College of General Practitioners 

General Medical Council