What is a general practitioner?
GPs are doctors who are trained to help you with any type of physical or mental health issue. You can visit a GP if you’re concerned about any health issues like sexual health and contraception, alcohol and other drug use, relationship problems, or if you’re experiencing depression, anxiety or any other mental health concern.
What does an appointment look like?
Our headspace clinicians have some advice on what to expect when you visit a GP:
- Standard GP appointments usually take between 10-15 minutes. A longer appointment will take 20-25 minutes.
- First appointments with GPs at headspace centres are usually longer than a standard appointment. You might be seen by another health worker, too – it just really depends on what you need to speak about.
- The GP will ask a range of questions about your health and may want to do a physical check-up, like blood pressure, heart rate and temperature, or examine other parts of your body relevant to your problem.
- A GP can’t do any sort of examination without explaining why it’s necessary, what will happen and getting your permission.
- The GP will then discuss the concern with you and talk about what you can do next. Remember to ask your GP questions about your health problem so you know exactly what’s going on. Try to be open and honest about your concerns and situation so that you can make a plan together.
What are my rights to privacy?
If you’re not feeling comfortable and safe with your GP, it’s perfectly OK for you change to another doctor and ask them to transfer your medical records.
All GPs have to keep, by law, information about their patients private. This means they cannot discuss your visit with anyone else, but there are a few exceptions. If a GP thinks you’re likely to harm yourself or someone else, they have a duty of care to make sure you stay safe, so they may need to tell other people.
The only other time a doctor will release your information is if ordered to do so by a court, but this is rare.
If you want to know more about your rights to privacy and confidentiality, ask your GP to talk it through with you at any stage of your appointment.