Veronica, aged 76 from Putney and a former volunteer at Kingston Hospital, feels that it is vital that people understand what’s involved in their care and how the NHS functions: “I think that communication plays a key part in helping patients obtain the care they need. When health issues become complicated, it is important to communicate well with your doctor.”

With this in mind, we’ve taken ten tips from our new Wise Guide: Your Health and the NHS: Helping you get the care you need as you get older which a range of healthcare professionals contributed to. It provides advice on how to make the most of NHS services. You can order a free copy or read it online.


1. Let your GP know about your lifestyle –  Help you GP diagnose what’s wrong by telling them about the medication you’re taking - including complementary medicines - alcohol consumption, smoking and how much you eat.


2. Book a double appointment - If you have a complicated problem and think you’ll need more than the allocated 8-10 minute slot, book a double appointment to give you more time.


3. Write a list - If you have a list of concerns, write them down to discuss in order of priority in case you don’t have time to get through them all.


4. Bring relevant documents - If you need to discuss a recent hospital appointment with the GP, make sure you bring any relevant letters with you in case the GP hasn’t received a copy.


5. Don’t rush - Be prepared to talk about different conditions in separate appointments so the GP doesn’t have to rush through each query.


6. Take a picture - If you’ve had a rash that comes and goes, use a camera or smartphone to take a picture and show the doctor.


7. Bring what you need - Remember to bring your glasses or hearing aid if you use one.


8. Think about your clothing - If you know you’ll need to have your blood pressure taken, for example, wear clothing with loose sleeves.


9. Take a friend - Consider asking someone to go with you if you have a complicated problem. They can listen, ask questions and take notes for you to help you remember what the doctor said.


10. Make notes - It could be helpful to keep a file with a record of what’s been said at each appointment and what medication you’re on, so make notes when you get home.


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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