The National Health Service is a public-sector organisation directly funded by central government and paid for largely by taxation.
The NHS provides many services including general practitioners (GPs), hospital services, community nursing, health visitors and advice from NHS direct.
General practitioners work in local GP practices and health centres. Local people usually have to book an appointment before they visit the GP, although in an emergency the GP will visit a patient at home.
The local GP practice will usually keep the medical records of its patients and each patient is allocated a named GP. Patients can change their GP if they wish. GP services are dealing with illnesses that do not require emergency treatment- for example, where patients notice symptoms, but can wait perhaps a few days to see a doctor.
A visit to the GP is called a consultation. During a consultation, the GP will try to diagnose an illness the patient is suffering from. Sometimes, the GP will delay diagnosis until a blood test has been carried out. Following the diagnosis, the GP might prescribe treatment, most commonly by issuing a written prescription for the patient to take to a pharmacist, who provides the medication.
However, the GP does not always provide treatment. He or she may decide that no treatment is needed or might recommend that the patient self-treats, for example with painkillers.
If the GP diagnoses a serious illness, or is uncertain of the diagnosis, the patient might be referred to a medical specialist, such as a hospital consultation. Access to a hospital consultation is through the GP. If the GP believes that the patient does not need to see a consultant and can be treated better by a GP, referral to a consultant is not made. GPs therefore act as gatekeepers, controlling access to hospital consultations
à ACCESS TO GP SERVICES CAN BE OBTAINED BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE REGISTERED WITH A GP
à ACCESS IS MOST COMMONLY BY SELF REFERRAL. THIS MEANS THAT THE PATIENT MAKES THE DECISION TO VISIT THE GP
Most general hospitals provide a range of services:
Accident and Emergency Department
An accident and emergency department is staffed day and night to provide emergency medical care for people who have been involved in accidents or who have been taken ill suddenly.
Soon after arrival at A&E. patients are assessed briefly to decide the seriousness of their condition. Assessment is carried out by a triage nurse or senior house officer. Those patients with the…