Working with doctors Working for patients

Doctors must provide good care

The evidence suggests that the vast majority of patients have an excellent and trusting relationship with their doctors. With respect and understanding on both sides, you should be able to develop such a relationship. The support and feedback that patients provide is vital for doctors in helping them work effectively and in continuing to improve standards of practice.Doctor examining patient

From the outset, to provide you with the best care and treatment the doctor will need to find out what’s wrong with you.

They must listen to your explanation of why you have come to see them, and take into account your previous and current health and illnesses, as well as your lifestyle and your views. They should examine you physically when necessary.

It is important to be as frank and open as you can. You may find it helpful to make some notes beforehand to take with you, so you do not leave out some information that will help the doctor understand your situation. Doctors must provide good care

What will my doctor tell me?

They will offer you advice, medicines or other treatment based on the best available evidence. Many of us find it difficult to take in all the information our doctor is sharing with us and it is important to ask for clarification if you need it. In particular, you should understand whether you need to prepare for the treatment or any tests, and that you are clear on the instructions for taking medicines.

Again, do ask your doctor if you are not sure of anything he or she has said, including when or how you should take any medicine or why you need to have any tests. If you feel your doctor has not made the right diagnosis or is not offering the right treatment, you can ask for a second opinion from another doctor.

Helping to train students and doctors

Everyone who sees you should introduce themselves and explain how they fit into the team looking after you. Training the next generation of doctors is a key part of any healthcare system. Medical students cannot learn all they need to know from books and will, at times, be part of the team. If for any reason you would prefer not to help in medical student training, you have the right to decline.

Patient listening to doctor

Once doctors are qualified, they will undergo further training in a specialty or to become a GP, and will be part of the teams looking after patients. They will see patients and take part in their care in ways that are appropriate to their level of training. All doctors must continue to learn throughout their careers and keep up to date in their areas of practice.

It is a key part of their role for doctors to refer their patients to other doctors or other health professionals. They should provide treatments and other services only if they have the relevant knowledge and skills to do so safely.

No doctor can know everything. They will often ask a colleague for help or refer you to another doctor where the care you need is outside their expertise.

Doctors must use resources responsibly

You can help them to do this by managing minor illnesses yourself and by making sure you follow treatment instructions and attend appointments, or cancel them in advance. For example, completing courses of antibiotics even when you feel better helps prevent antibiotic resistance which can harm other patients.