Accessing your GP practice - FAQs


Is my GP practice open?

GP practices are open but are working differently in order to protect patients and staff.

In order to protect the most clinically vulnerable people who are in contact with our health care professionals, we are still asking you to wear face coverings and socially distance in line with the national guidance. 


Why can’t I get a face to face appointment?

We are still offering face to face appointments but only when it is clinically necessary in order to keep you safe.

When contacting your GP, you will undergo an assessment (called triaging) of your needs to determine whether you may or may not have COVID-19 symptoms.

Based on this assessment your doctor or clinician will determine if you need a face-to-face appointment. If safe and appropriate to do so, an appointment will be arranged, or a member of your practice clinical team may undertake your consultation via telephone or through a video consultation depending on the system used by your practice.


Why do reception staff ask personal questions?

GP reception staff are vital members of the practice team and treat all information as confidential. They ask questions to ensure that patients are directed to the best support, within and outside the practice.

They are trained to ensure patients are seen by the most appropriate member of the practice team and ensure GPs can prioritise patients with the greatest clinical need.


How can my condition be properly diagnosed via telephone or video?

Lots of common conditions can be diagnosed using mobile devices, telephone or video thanks to the experience of your GPs and other healthcare professionals, and their ability to recognise the signs and symptoms of conditions from the information you provide. However, if they judge that it is safer and more appropriate to organise a face-to-face appointment for you then this will be arranged.


What if I can’t or don’t want to use video technology for an appointment?

If you aren’t able to have an appointment via video technology then your GP will arrange an alternative option for you which could be either a phone call or a face-to-face appointment.

Who will I be seen by?

Many GP practices have teams of specialists working alongside the GPs.

These teams have widened and may include Nurses, Health Care Assistants, Advanced Nurse Practitioners, Pharmacists, Physiotherapists, Mental Health Workers and Social Prescribers.

Your needs might be dealt with more effectively by one of those team members.


Do I still need to wear a face covering?

Yes. NHS patients, staff and visitors must continue to wear face coverings in healthcare settings, which include GP practices, hospitals, dental practices, optometrists and pharmacies. You must also follow social distancing rules. This is to reduce the risk of infection for those working in health services and those who need care. You can read the infection prevention control guidance in full on the Government website here.


How should I order my prescriptions?

The best way to order your repeat prescription is online through your GP practice or the NHS app. If you are unable to order your prescription in this way, your practice will have arrangements in place. Please only contact your surgery to request an alternative method of ordering prescriptions if you or a friend/family member are unable to order your medicines online or via an app.

If you can’t get out to pick up your medicines you can ask a trusted family member, friend or neighbour to collect your medicines once the prescription is ready for collection. If you have no one to help and are self-isolating, you can find details of support available on Sefton Council's website here.


Can I still access other services from my surgery, such as ante-natal appointments for example?

Services such as ante-natal clinics, all vaccination programmes (for example child and baby immunisations), and hormone injections for patients with prostate cancer have remained in place throughout the pandemic. If you are unsure what the arrangements are, please contact the service directly.

Before you attend your appointment, you will be assessed to see if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. This helps keep you, other patients and practice staff safe.

What about emergencies?

  • If you have an urgent health issue please contact your GP practice during the day.
  • If you have an urgent issue and think you need to go to the Emergency Department please call 111.
  • If you have a life-threatening emergency please call 999 or go to your local Emergency Department.

Where else can I get help?

  • Get advice online

It's easy to get NHS help using your smartphone, tablet or computer. Get NHS help online here. The NHS App is available to download and has some really useful options that can help to support you and your family at home such as reordering prescriptions, and up to date COVID-19 advice access 111 Online, for advice on self-care and whether urgent help is needed.

  • NHS 111

When you need medical help or advice fast, but it is not a 999 emergency, you can contact NHS 111 online or by calling 111 at any time day or night. NHS 111 will direct people to the most appropriate health service which may include a walk-in centre, GP practice, pharmacy or hospital.

  • Your local pharmacy

Pharmacies are still open to provide you with expert health advice on minor illnesses and ailments. As qualified healthcare professionals, they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains.

If you are going into a pharmacy in person, follow social distancing rules and the rules put in place by the pharmacy to protect you and their staff.

You can find website details for local pharmacies here.

  • Other services

You can also find information accessing other services including walk-in and urgent care services, community services, mental health and wellbeing services and more on our website here.