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Knowing yourself and your own health and how to access the right information, support or medical help when you need it helps you to stay in control of your health and your life.
The more you can find out and discover about your particular health and wellbeing issues, the better.
Whether it’s a new issue or an existing condition you’re managing, what are you experiencing?
What makes it better? What makes it worse?
This is about listening to your body, listening to your feelings and your instinct. Bear in mind that psychological/emotional issues, such as stress, can cause or exacerbate physical symptoms and vice verse.
If there’s something you’re currently concerned about, try to identify exactly what your concern is and what your immediate needs are, if any, regarding that concern. For example:
‘I have a pain in my knee - I know what’s causing it but need the pain controlled’
is different from
‘I have a pain in my knee - I need to know whether it’s something I should be taking seriously and doing something about’
and is different again from
‘I have a pain in my knee - I have medications to control it but don’t like taking them and would like to know if there’s any alternative’.
Apart from seeking medical advice (see lower down this page), you can find out more by looking up relevant information yourself, either online or through other sources of information; or there may be people with some sort of specialist knowledge you can access, such as a pharmacist for medication issues, or even some amongst your friends or family who may have knowledge or experience they can share.
Some of the options may be medical and some may be more straightforward things you can do yourself. Even chronic pain can often be improved a great deal through making relatively minor changes in daily life. Sometimes quite simple remedies or actions can help, without having to resort to medications. Where these work, they side-step the issue of possible side effects from medication.
Once you consult a doctor, you are probably looking for medical solutions. Sometimes these can fix a problem - or help to fix it - but they can’t always. Even if they help, they can be even more effective when teamed with self-management strategies.
Finding the right help or support isn’t always easy, but it’s much easier if you can work out what sort of support you need before you go looking for it
‘Manage your health’ on this website can help you to see some of the options currently available to you on the NHS.
Choose the most appropriate help for you and make the most of your appointment time with your health professional.
Pharmacists - can help with treatments for a variety of minor ailments and also advise whether you should see a doctor (see What your pharmacist can do for you). You can just call in to any pharmacy and ask to speak to the pharmacist without having to make an appointment.
GP Practices - General practitioners (GPs) treat all common medical conditions and refer patients to hospitals and other medical services for urgent and specialist treatment. They focus on the health of the whole person combining physical, psychological and social aspects of care.
Minor Injuries units - where available, minor injuries units can deal with minor injuries such as sprains and strains, broken bones, wound infections, minor burns and scalds, minor head injuries, insect and animal bits, minor eye injurie and injuries to the back, shoulder and chest. Some minor injuries units don't have the facilities to treat young children so it's worth checking in advance of turning up.
Emergency help - While it’s important not to use emergency services whenever you can avoid it, it’s also very important that you do know when to seek emergency treatment. NHS Choices provides some guidance here.
If you’re still not sure, try to make best use of any available advice and information you can access, including from friends and family or 111 or online - or Walk-in GP surgeries where available (see Emergency and Out of Hours on this website) and listen to your instinct in trying to make the best decision you can in the situation. Are you worrying unnecessarily and can afford to watch and wait or is this a situation that you feel needs urgent attention to avoid serious consequences?
Before you see your GP or other healthcare professional, do you know what sort of help you’re looking for? Is it a diagnosis; treatment; reassurance; problems with existing treatments; alternative treatments; referral to other health services; or monitoring; or something else?
It can help to be clear about what you’d like to come out of the consultation with so that you can be clear what you’re asking for and clear, afterwards, whether you got what you felt you needed – or, if not, whether you’re happy with the result nonetheless.
BE AS HONEST AND OPEN as you can.
There are a number of additional services available through your local NHS, apart from clinical care, such as:
Various support options for a wide range of social needs, many of which are highlighted and can be accessed via the Manage your health pages on this website
Contact us online
This may be used if you need to contact us for any reason, not just consulting a doctor.
Medical Care when we are closed
NON-EMERGENCY: Take a look at our "Get health information" page. Alternatively, call 111 for non-urgent medical advice.
MINOR INJURIES: We do not provide a minor injuries service. You should attend A&E or a local minor iunjuries unit. The LIVE WAITING times for these services are listed here.
EMERGENCY: Dial 999 or go to your nearest A&E Department (you must not dial 999 for anything other than an emergency)
If you do need to attend the emergency department at Torbay Hospital please read this leaflet.