Your local GP practice
GPs (general practicioners) look after the health of people in their local community and deal with a whole range of health problems. They also provide health education, offer advice on smoking and diet, run clinics, give vaccinations and carry out simple surgical operations.
GPs usually work in practices as part of a team, which includes nurses, healthcare assistants, practice managers, receptionists and other staff. Practices also work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as health visitors, midwives and social services. You would normally see GPs or other healthcare professionals at their premises (surgery). Some operate from more than one building. If your GP cannot deal with a problem then you'll usually be referred to a hospital for tests, treatment, or to see a consultant with specialist knowledge.
GP practices should make information about their services easily available to their patients. All practices should have a practice leaflet available, please ask for one.
Finding the right GP practice
You can register with a GP practice of your choice, as long as you live within its catchment area and it is accepting new patients. Visits to the surgery are free.
If you are having problems registering with a nearby doctor then please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).
How to register with a GP practice
When you have found a practice you like, you should contact the practice directly and ask to register. You will have to formally register with them as an NHS patient by submitting a registration form. When you have completed and returned the form, your medical records will transfer to your new practice and you will receive written confirmation of your registration as a patient with that practice.
The organisation that deals with GP registration in this borough is the Primary Care Support Services (PCSS). If you try three GP practices and are unsuccessful, you can be allocated a GP by PCSS. You would need to write to PCSS stating this, with your signature on the letter. Their address is PCSS Preston Office, 3 Caxton Road, Fulwood, Preston, PR2 9ZZ.
Parents or guardians can register a baby at a practice by completing and presenting a form called an FP58, which is issued at the same time as a birth certificate.
A practice cannot refuse you unless it has reasonable grounds for doing so. These must not relate to race, gender, social class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability, or a medical condition. It must also give you reasons for its decision in writing. However, you may be refused if you are living outside the practice's catchment area or the practice's patient list is formally closed.
You can register with a GP practice as a temporary resident under certain circumstances – when you are in an area for more than 24 hours but less than three months.
If you need further information about registering with a GP, the direct telephone number for PCSS is 01772 221 444.
There is also more information about registering with a GP on the NHS Choices website.
Booking an appointment
There are no set rules for this. However, your practice should be able to offer you an appointment to see a GP or other healthcare professional quickly if necessary. You can usually see any doctor within your practice. This is quite normal, especially if you need an appointment quickly. However, if it is more convenient, you should also be able to book appointments in advance. It is very important to keep your appointment, or notify the practice if you have to cancel or change it.
How to complain
If you disagree with the way your GP wants to treat your health problem, or you're unhappy about the service provided by your GP practice, tell them openly. However, if you feel unable to do so or you're unhappy with the response you receive, you may wish to make a complaint.
All GP practices have a written complaints procedure. You will find this at the reception or on the practice website. As a first step, speak to the practice manager. You can also complain to the practice in writing or by email. You will not be removed from the practice or receive less favourable treatment because you have complained. If this doesn't resolve the problem, or you'd rather not raise the issue directly with the practice, you can complain to PALS.
Can I change practice?
If you are not registered with any doctor or would like to change your GP, you can find out about GP surgeries in your area, the services they offer and opening times by calling 0845 4647, or visiting the NHS Choices website, or by using the Find a Service locator on the right hand side of this page.
There are several reasons why you may need to find a new practice such as:
- you have moved into a new area
- you have moved outside the catchment area of your current practice
- there is a problem with your relationship with your current practice, or
- your current practice has taken steps to remove you from its list.
You have the right to change practice without giving a reason, but it is helpful if you notify the practice that you are leaving. You can approach another practice and apply to join its list of patients. When you are accepted by a new practice, your medical records will be transferred across.
All patients in the borough can access a GP or nurse appointment in the evening, at weekend and a bank holiday at the extended hours ‘hubs’.
There are four hubs, two in Rochdale and one each in Heywood and Middleton . Access to the hubs appointments and some on the day slots can be made by contacting your own GP surgery or directly on 0161 763 8292.
Hub appointments are available Monday to Friday 6.30pm to 9.00pm, Saturday 8.00am to 6pm, Sunday 10am to 1pm and Bank Holiday as Saturdays.
For more information, please visit the CCG's There for You web page. Answers to frequently asked questions about extended hours access to local GP and nurse services can be found by following the link, here.
Patient Advice and Liaison Service
If you are not satisfied with the GP or NHS service you have received or you feel that standards have not been met, please contact the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).
Care at the Chemist
You don't always have to see your GP for medical advice and treatment; your local pharmacy might be able to help instead.
Pharmacists can advise on a range of minor ailments including allergies, colds and a sore throat, so you don't have to keep going to see your doctor to get the medication you need.