From routine illnesses to more complex health problems, a GP can help with a huge range of health issues at all stages of your life.
Having a trusting, long-term relationship with a general practitioner (GP) is the best way to ensure you receive regular, quality healthcare. It enables your GP to develop an understanding of your medical history and healthcare preferences over time.
Sometimes, you might decide to see a GP you’ve never seen before. This might be because it's more convenient (for example, closer to where you work), or because the cost is lower. You may also see a new GP because you want a second opinion or specialist expertise.
1. The best time to find a trusted GP is before you really need them
Building a relationship with your GP over time can offer insight into complex health issues as well as providing you with trusted support in an emergency. If you are looking for a new long-term GP, book in a check-up and use it as an opportunity to see if their approach and expertise suits you. Your friends and family may also have recommendations.
2. Your needs will change at different times in your life
There are times in your life when you will see a GP more often than usual. Pregnancy and birth, raising a family, caring for older parents and managing serious illness are all reasons why people seek out more consistent care from a regular GP who is familiar with their concerns, preferences and medical history.
3. General practitioners can have specialist expertise
GPs are doctors trained in general practice, but can also specialise in other areas. You may want to focus on a particular health goal (such as quitting smoking or losing weight), an acute illness or a long-term chronic health issue (such as mental health or asthma). In this situation, you might choose a GP with particular experience to help with your healthcare decisions.
4. Cost, availability and location matter
Trust, expertise and communication are not the only things to consider when choosing a GP. Other factors include healthcare costs and rebates, extended opening hours, after hours care, appointment waiting times and clinic location.
5. Sharing care across several GPs is another option
A healthcare clinic will usually have many different GPs who can easily access your medical history and offer you flexibility and choice in appointments and expertise. This model can suit families or people who are managing multiple commitments and need to get appointments quickly and at particular times.
How to use this tool
This tool will not tell you what to decide. Instead, it will help you to reflect on what is important to you and prepare you to take your next steps.
Use this tool to gather your thoughts, weigh up the benefits and risks, identify where you need more information and assess how you are feeling. It will take a little time to go through all the steps in the tool.
At the end of this guide, you will have a summary of your thinking in one place. You can then print this summary and use it to discuss the situation with family, friends and your GP.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a GP.