A family doctor is a general medical practitioner who works with people of all ages and all kinds of healthcare needs. The family doctor is generally the first person to see about non-emergency medical problems. They have broad experience and many common health issues can be dealt with entirely by your family physician. They treat both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) conditions.
There is a push to have more people looked after at home with conditions that would in the past have needed hospital treatment. This means that family doctors in the community can be involved with people from the very start to the very end of their lives, and they are skilled in caring for the families of their patients as well as the patients themselves.
A family doctor has to be very skilled at interacting and communicating with people of all ages and abilities and looks after people with mental health problems and learning disabilities as well as all kinds of medical issues. They are an important part of a community healthcare team, and they play a large part in health promotion and education as well as treating existing medical condition.
A family doctor usually works in a community health centre or family practice. They can also do home visits for those patients who are unable to attend the surgery. Routine monitoring for certain disease can be done at the family practice, such as diabetes or heart failure clinics. Appointments with a family doctor usually last ten to fifteen minutes, and you can specify if you need longer appointments. You can also let the practice know if you need help with access, communication or translation, or if you want them to arrange a chaperone for any appointments. Many doctors’ surgeries now offer an increasing number of telephone appointments to try and get people appointments for medical advice as soon as possible when there is high demand.
The family practitioner works as part of a large team offering all kinds of support and care. The team at a family practice runs clinics for weighing babies, monitoring child health and development, immunisation programs, sexual and reproductive health, and clinics for monitoring long-term diseases in the community, to name just a few. Associated healthcare professionals may run clinics within or with links to a family practice, such as physiotherapists, dietitians, or podiatrists. The family practice may be linked to a pharmacy and is responsible for dispensing both long and short-term courses of medication.
Anyone can make an appointment to see one of the family doctors at the practice they’re registered with. The doctor is able to assess, examine, diagnose and treat a wide variety of illnesses. The family practitioner is also able to refer patients to specialists, or for further investigations or treatments that can’t be done at the family practice. Family practitioners may perform some minor surgeries such as the removal of small superficial lesions or skin tags. Your family surgery will keep thorough records of your medical history and needs.
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