Students: How to choose a GP

Students: How to Find a Doctor Close to University

The location of a GP is important, it is easy to find a doctor close to your university or accommodation.  However GP Practices are not all of the same standard, some are rated as better than others by the NHS.  Finding a doctor that is close to where you live is important, but so is finding a GP that will take good care of your health.  When choosing a GP Practice it is also important to make sure they offer online facilities for booking appointments, repeat prescriptions and accessing your medical records.

Table of Contents

How to Find a GP Close to Your University

To find a GP close to your University accommodation:

  • Go to the GP Ratings page and enter your postcode in the box. Alternatively click on the Location Search icon to the left of the ‘Search’ button.
  • We have used the M13 9PL postcode for the University of Manchester in this example.
  • Once you have entered your location the nearest GP Practices will be listed. These can be viewed in list form as shown in the example below, or on a map.
  • To view the map click on the ‘see results on a map’ link, highlighted by the green box below.

Doctors Near to University

The doctors’ surgeries closest to the University of Manchester are displayed, basic details for each practice are listed.  These include:

  • Phone number
  • Address
  • Directions
  • A 5 star based rating. This rating uses information submitted by patients.

The star system is commonly based on very few respondents.  The next section will show how to quickly identify the best medical centres in your area using information published by the Department for Health, which can be more helpful.

Health care varies in quality, find the best doctor close to your university by taking five minutes to compare practices.

How to Find the Best Doctor Close to University

The Department for Health monitor how well all NHS GP Practices perform for a range of criteria.  These results show that there is a big difference between the best and worst healthcare providers.  Due to this variation it is important not to just choose the closest surgery to your Halls of residence, campus or accommodation.  The quality of the care provided should be reviewed to ensure you receive the best care available when it is required.

There is a huge amount of information published to help rate individual GP Practices

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) are the independent regulator who try to make sure health services are safe, effective, compassionate and of a high quality.  The CQC inspect surgeries and review and rate the facilities and treatment offered.  Findings from these CQC inspections offer a great snapshot of how good each GP surgery performs in looking after its patients.

To find the best doctor close to your campus or university accommodation:

  • Go to the Best GP in my town page.
  • Enter a postcode within the ‘in a location’ field.
  • Make sure the drop down reads ‘5 miles’, this will show the closest practices to your address.
  • Click update results. Practices are rated as either ‘Outstanding’ – the best possible result.  This is followed by ‘Good’, then Requires Improvement.  Some practices may not be rated and it is hard therefore to judge and compare these practices.
  • You can then use this information to help find the practice that is close to your accommodation, but also highly rated. It is important to be able to reach a doctor quickly and easily from your halls of residence or campus in an urgent situation, however the quality of care provided once you speak to the GP also needs to be considered.

Can I be Registered with Two Doctors?

A common question concerns if it is possible to be registered with two doctors at once.  Most people are registered with a doctor close to their pre-university address.  If you move away to university it may not be convenient to use your current GP in times of need, for example situations where you urgently need treatment or medication.  You can’t be a permanently registered patient at more than one GP Practice.

As NHS patients we have the legal right to choose the GP that best suits your needs.  The GP Practice must accept you unless there are reasonable grounds to refuse you.  Reasons can include they are not accepting new patients, or you live too far away from the surgery.

If you don’t sign up to a new GP Practice straight away after moving to university it is possible to receive emergency treatment.  This normally lasts for 14 days, after this time you will need to register as a temporary resident or sign up as a patient.

Registering as a temporary resident means you can be a patient at the practice for up to three months.  This means that if you move away from your home area, you can register with a new practice, but still stay as a patient at your original practice.

Can I Get Emergency Care Without Registering with a New GP?

If you need emergency care and have not registered with a new GP help is available.  If you fall ill while away from your home and are not registered with a local doctor you can contact your nearest practice and ask for treatment.   Other options include calling 999, 111, or visiting a NHS Walk in centre or minor injuries unit – the best option depends on how ill you are.   It is a good idea to research the location of the nearest walk in centre or minor injuries unit when you first move to the area.

Do Students Have to Pay for Prescriptions?

Some students have to pay for prescriptions, some don’t.  NHS Prescriptions are free to all in Scotland and Wales.  At the time of writing (May 2017) you have to pay for prescriptions if you are over 18 and in full time education and live in England.

As a student in full time education in England you are not exempt from having to pay for prescriptions.  Help may be available if you are on a low income via the NHS HC1 Low Income Scheme form.  Full details can be found here If you have assets valued at under £16,000 you may be eligible for help with paying for prescriptions.

If you are a student in England and need regular prescriptions it may be worthwhile applying for a Prescription Payment Certificate.  As a student you still need to pay for prescriptions with a Prescription Payment Certificate, however these can be capped to a set fee for prescriptions needed during a period of time.  As at May 2017 the prices are

£29.10 for 3 months.

£104 for 12 months.

Students may be exempt from paying NHS prescription charges if you fall into a number of categories.  These categories do not depend on you being in full time education.  For example pregnant women, or those suffering from a condition and have a medical exemption certificate qualify.  Full details can be found here medical exemption certificate.

Which Doctors Offer the Best Online Services?

Many surgeries now offer internet based services, it is possible to compare which Doctors offer the best online services using NHS information.  Ratings and comparisons about three main types of online services are available from NHS information published on the website.  Using this information you can compare doctors to find which offer an online appointment booking service, allow you to access your medical records online and provide an internet based repeat prescription service.

Which Doctors Offer the Best Online Appointment Booking

Booking an appointment over the internet is not a facility available from all doctors, to find which medical practices offer online appointment booking follow these steps.

  • Go to the GP Ratings page
  • Enter your post code in the box. This example uses the M13 9PL (University of Manchester) postcode.
  • In the ‘Topics’ box choose ‘Online Facilities’ and ‘Update Results’.
  • GP Practices near your location are listed with details showing if the surgery offers an online appointment booking service.
  • Further information on the percentage of patients signed up from the practice population as a whole is also shown.

Online GP booking

Do all Doctors Offer an Online Repeat Prescriptions Ordering Service

Not all GP Practices offer an online service to order or view repeat prescriptions.  Being able to order prescriptions online can help save time.  The same process as detailed above can highlight the practices near you university to offer this service.

  • Go to the GP Ratings page
  • Enter your post code in the box. This example uses the M13 9PL (University of Manchester) postcode.
  • In the ‘Topics’ box choose ‘Online Facilities’ and ‘Update Results’.
  • GP Practices near your location are listed with details showing if the surgery offers the facility to order or view repeat prescriptions.

Order repeat prescriptions online

Can I Online Access my Medical Records Online

More and more surgeries are offering the opportunity to access medical records online.  This can be useful if you are living away from home for part of the year, for example when doing a placement.

Being able to access your medical records online can also help in managing your medical conditions.  The NHS is hoping it will empower individuals as the video below shows.

When signing up to access your medical records online, it may be worth confirming with your GP how this service can help you if you take a gap year abroad or visit another country.

Finding out if GP Surgeries near your student accommodation provide access to medical records online is simple.

  • Go to the GP Ratings page
  • Enter your post code in the box. This example uses the M13 9PL (University of Manchester) postcode.
  • In the ‘Topics’ box choose ‘Online Facilities’ and ‘Update Results’.
  • The ‘Online Access to View your Record’ column shows which doctors near the post code entered offer this service.

Online access to your medical records

Finding the Best Doctor for Diabetes, Asthma or Depression

The CQC provide an overall rating for the quality of care provided by a surgery. This can be used to compare practices in an area, to see how they perform generally.  If you have a specific long term condition such as asthma, diabetes or suffer from depression it may be worth taking more time to compare the services provided by GP Practices near your university.

How to Register with a Doctor if you are a Student

Once you have decided which GP Practice is the best for you then it is easy to register with the Doctor.  Practices will have their own forms to complete.  Simply visit the surgery, call them or visit their website and ask about the process to register.  The staff at the surgery will be able to tell you if they are accepting new patients and the exact form they need completing.  Different surgeries may require specific forms of identification.  Most practices will be used to registering students in full or part-time education as patients and will be able to explain exactly what is needed.  Visiting the GP Practice in person may be beneficial as it gives you the opportunity to see how they operate and the quality of the facilities.