Coronavirus information for patients
What can patients expect of their doctor?
Doctors, and the whole healthcare system, continue to be under intense pressure due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
However, doctors are still accountable for the decisions they make. They’re expected to do their best in extraordinary circumstances to deliver good care and follow our guidance. They should treat you with dignity and respect, listen to your concerns and discuss options with you.
Helping you to get the treatment you need
If you need medical help, the health service is there for you. It’s important to continue to attend appointments, unless you’ve been told not to. If you have new health concerns, you can:
- use your GP surgery's website, an online service or app, or call the surgery
- in England, use the NHS 111 online service, or call 111 if you're unable to get help online. You can also access help in other languages or British sign language
- find online help and information in the other countries of the UK:
- as always, for life-threatening emergencies call 999 for an ambulance.
If you're advised to go to hospital, it's important to go.
You can play your part to help the NHS by:
- following the latest UK government advice at GOV.UK
- being understanding of the pressure on doctors and healthcare staff
- treating all NHS staff with respect.
Remote consultations and prescribing
You may be offered a phone or video consultation with your GP instead of visiting the surgery. Together with the General Pharmaceutical Council we’ve developed a guide for patients to help you make sure that any medicine, treatment or health advice you get online is safe and right for you.
Whether you’re meeting your doctor face to face, online or on the phone, it’s important that you’re able to effectively communicate what matters most to you about your treatment. You must also be able to understand the information your doctor is giving you about your treatment and options. Doctors must continue to follow our guidance whatever the method of consultation.
We know you may have some questions about the COVID-19 vaccines and how they might affect you. We don’t develop or regulate the vaccines, but the following organisations offer advice and information for patients.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) –information about the quality, safety, and effectiveness standards a vaccine has to meet before it's approved for use in the UK.
- The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) – advice about groups who should be prioritised for vaccination.
You can also get country-specific information about the vaccine rollout from:
Your consent to have the vaccine
Whatever the reason for consulting with your doctor, it’s important that you can have a conversation about your options and can give informed consent for any treatment, including vaccines.
Our guidance on decision making and consent helps doctors give you the information you need. They must check whether you have understood the information, and if you need to know anything else before making a decision.
We’ve also published advice for doctors answering some frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 vaccination programme.