When it comes to the health of you and your family, there’s nothing more important. So, choosing the right family doctor is an important decision – and one which shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’ve moved to a different country, a different town or city, or are getting a doctor for the first time, then you need to start doing some homework. Here are some of the things you should be considering.

What is a family doctor?

A family doctor is someone who’s there to take care of you and your family, providing primary care – often over a very long period. They’re there to help you with all sorts of illnesses and ailments and, when appropriate, will refer you to specialist doctors, health centres or hospitals.

Often doctors stay with generations of the same family, getting to know them well, and becoming a trusted and friendly face. They’ll listen to your concerns and help keep you and your family in the best health condition possible.

Which medical conditions can they help with?

Family doctors are highly trained and have a broad knowledge of medical conditions and ailments. They can help you with everything from a stomach bug to tonsillitis. They will also refer you to specialists at other medical centres, or hospitals if they suspect conditions require further assessment or examination.

As well as physical conditions, they can also provide advice and support with mental and emotional complaints. For example, if you are suffering from bouts of depression or struggling to cope with bereavement.
It’s important that you take the time to explain your symptoms and feelings carefully when you see your doctor so that they can help you as much as possible, and get to the root of what is making you feel unwell. They will want to help cure your illness or ailment and prevent any worsening or repeat of it.

Your doctor can also help in terminal care cases, recognising how important hospice and end of life care offerings make a difference. They can point you in the direction of dedicated hospices like Peace Hospice and Palliative Care, who can bring comfort and provide specialized care for a terminally ill loved one and their family.

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Tips for choosing a doctor

If you’re moving to a new area where you already know people, then ask them for some suggestions, word of mouth can come in useful for picking a family doctor. You can also have a look at the internet and request some literature, giving you more information.

You’ll need to be considering where the doctor is located, when they are available and, if applicable, whether it meets your insurance requirements.

When you think you may have found the right doctor for you, then you should visit the medical centre, complete all the necessary paperwork and meet the doctor. It’s an excellent opportunity to introduce yourself and to ask questions face to face, to set any concerns at bay.

Will I be in safe hands?

Family doctors are well-trained and experienced medical practitioners. If you have any doubt about the status of your doctor or the health centre where they work, then check they have all the necessary registrations and qualifications in place. However, if you have any issues with the standard of care you receive, then it’s important that you raise it with your doctor and, if necessary, file a complaint through the formal channels open to you.

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