All of these facts are taken from our new Wise Guide: Your Health and the NHS: Helping you get the care you need as you get older which provides advice on the many healthcare options available and how to make the most of their services. You can order a free copy or read it online

1. GPs are busy - According to the Royal College of General Practitioners, approximately 90% of all NHS patient contact happens in GP surgeries, and each GP sees around 30-40 patients a day. GP patient surveys show that 16% of us wait more than a week to get an appointment.

2. Missing appointments costs money - NHS England estimates that more than 12 million GP appointments are missed each year in the UK, costing the NHS over £162 million annually.

3. A&E waiting times - The maximum time you should have to wait to see someone in A&E is four hours. However, most patients will usually be seen within 2½ hours, rising to 3½ for the over-75s.

4. Check your local hospital - The NHS has launched a new site called My NHS (, with data about the performance of hospitals and consultants in each area. NHS Choices also has reviews of doctors, dentists, hospitals and other healthcare providers in your area, and leave your own comments. to get started.

5. Free midlife MOT - Everyone aged 40-74 is offered an NHS Health Check every five years, or once a year for those over 75 who ask. This assesses the risk of developing health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke or dementia, and offers advice on how to reduce the rise.

6. Use your pharmacist - Your local pharmacist can perform some health checks, including measuring blood pressure, screening for diseases like diabetes and reviewing your medications.

7. Getting home from hospital - After a hospital visit, if you would struggle to get home on your own, you may qualify for patient transport. However, there can be strict criteria for this. Charities such as the Red Cross and RVS have volunteer transport services in some areas.

8. Know your rights – As a UK resident, you have the right to choose who provides your NHS care when referred for outpatient hospital appointments

9. Duty to protect - NHS organisations now have a legal duty to tell you and apologise if your safety has been put at risk during an NHS treatment or procedure.

10. Older people complain less - Although around half of NHS care and services are given to older people, only a third of health complaints investigated by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman are about the care of this group.

Order your free copy of Your Health and the NHS: Helping you get the care you need as you get older

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