When should I contact GP Out-of-Hours?
You should contact GP Out-of-Hours if you or the person you are phoning for urgently need to speak to a GP and cannot wait to see their own GP during normal working hours. It is possible that you may not need to contact GP Out-of-Hours. Have a look at this list of other services to see if you need another service. 

What can GP Out-of-Hours not treat?
GP Out-of-Hours do not insert or remove stitches, and cannot do blood tests or xrays. For serious injuries such as fractures, cuts and burns you will generally need to attend an Emergency Department and for minor cuts and burns a Minor Injury Unit may be suitable. For suspected heart attacks or strokes telephone 999 directly. For some minor ailments you can go directly to a pharmacy. It is possible that you may not need GP Out-of-Hours – have a look at this list of other services available.

How do I contact GP Out-Of-Hours?
You can telephone GP Out-of-Hours directly if you know the telephone number. Otherwise you can telephone your daytime GP Surgery and the number for GP Out-of-Hours will be on the answering machine or your call may be put through directly to GP Out-of-Hours.

What happens when I telephone GP Out-Of-Hours?

When you telephone, a call handler will ask for the patient’s name, address, date of birth, telephone number and the name of the person’s doctor. You will be asked to give details of the health issue. The information will be treated confidentially.

How long will it be before someone phones me back?

The doctor or nurse will deal with the most urgent calls first and will aim to telephone back within 20 minutes for urgent calls and within 1 hour for all other calls. If the person gets worse it is very important that you telephone back and let us know. All telephone calls are recorded and the person’s GP will be advised the next working day of this contact.

What will happen when I am phoned back by GP Out-of-Hours?

The doctor or nurse will likely ask:

  • Details about the illness. What symptoms are there, how severe are they and how long the symptoms have been present.
  • If there are any other illnesses currently or previously.
  • Details of current medication.
  • What treatment measures have already been taken.
  • The Doctor may also ask about your family circumstances in relation to child care/carers responsibilities and travel arrangements where appropriate.

 The doctor or nurse will then one or more of the following:

  • Give advice over the telephone.
  • Give an appointment to attend an Out-of-Hours centre to see a GP.
  • Arrange a home visit from the relevant health professional.
  • Refer you to a more appropriate service e.g. 999, nurse, daytime GP, Emergency Department, social services etc
Will I have to attend an Out-of-Hours centre?

If the doctor needs to see you and thinks you are fit to travel you will be asked to come to an Out-of-Hours centre at a given time. Each centre is fully equipped, safe and secure, so your doctor will have the best opportunity to diagnose and treat your illness. A doctor can see several patients in a centre in the time it would take to carry out one home visit. This means that the doctor’s time is used more efficiently and they are better able to respond quickly to emergencies if they should arise. You should go to the Out-of-Hours Centre only if you have been given an appointment. Please do not simply attend one of the centres as they are not staffed all the time and turning up without an appointment could lead to unnecessary delays in your treatment. For acute
conditions appointments are given within 1 hour, urgent conditions within 2 hours and within 6 hours for all others.

When does the doctor visit at home?

A home visit will be arranged if necessary and appropriate. However home visits are reserved for special and urgent circumstances such as very elderly / bed bound patients, very ill people or where travelling may make the condition significantly worse. 

What if I need any medication?

If you need any medication immediately you will be given a prescription to take to a local pharmacy. However, in emergencies you may be given medication in an Out-of-Hours Centre that will cover you until the pharmacy is next open.

How is my information protected?

All telephone calls to and from GP Out-of-Hours are recorded. All GP Out-of-Hours providers are computerised and registered under the Data Protection Act 1998. Confidentiality is of utmost importance. It is a legal requirement that all staff maintain confidentiality of patients’ records. Information about you will not be passed onto any unauthorised person. CCTV cameras are in operation in some GP Out-of-Hours Centres. Your GP will be advised the next working day of you contact with GP Out-of-Hours.

What can I do if I am unhappy with the service or would like to give a compliment or make a suggestion?

GP Out-of-Hours aims to provide a high quality service. However, if for any reason you are unhappy with the care you receive or would like to give a compliment or make a suggestion about GP Out-of-Hours in your area contact the GP Out-of-Hours service. Patient satisfaction surveys are carried out on the service. This gives valuable feedback on the service provided. Your participation and help would be appreciated should you be contacted.