General practitioners (GPs) are one of the first points of contact for nearly all NHS patients. They can direct you to other NHS services, and are experts in family medicine, preventative care, health education and treating people with multiple and long-term conditions.
If your condition is non-urgent, you can expect to see the doctor within two working days or a health professional such as a nurse within one working day. If you don't need an appointment within two working days, you can also book in advance if this is more convenient for you.
It is important to attend for appointments, or notify the surgery if you have to cancel or change it.
How do I find a local GP to register with?
You have the right to be registered with the GP surgery of your choice, as long as you live within its catchment area and the surgery has an open list.
You can visit NHS Choices and search using your postcode for those surgeries closest to your address. Please be aware that the surgeries will be listed in order of how close they are to your home but do not take into account practice boundaries.
Please phone your preferred surgery in advance to check that you live within their catchment area. For further help:
You can contact the Thames Valley Primary Care Agency (TVPCA)
on 0118 918 3333 (Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm)
You can contact your local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
on 01753 635615 or 0118 982 2829 (Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm)
Once you have completed the registration form it can usually be processed within two working days and appointments can then be made. Some practices ask new patients to see the Practice Nurse for a health check. Medical records will be automatically transferred from your old GP surgery but take several weeks to follow. Please inform your new GP of any repeat prescriptions you may require in the meantime in order to maintain continuity of care.
Most GP surgeries in Berkshire also offer extended opening hours. To find out whether your surgery provides extended hours, please contact the surgery direct or click on NHS Choices for further details.
How do I access the Out of Hours GP?
Westcall provides the Out of Hours GP services in the West of Berkshire. Westcall is designed to provide advice or treatment for patients with medical conditions that need urgent management, which should not be delayed until the opening of the patient's GP surgery on the next working day. The East of Berkshire has a separate service.
Out of hours operate:
Weekdays: from 18:30 hours to 08:00 hours the next morning
Weekends: from 18:30 hours on the Friday evening, through Saturday and Sunday to 08:00 hours on Monday
Banks holidays: Same cover as for weekends.
Doctors and nurses will be able to give advice by telephone and GP visiting services will be available when clinically necessary.
If you need to contact a GP out of hours, telephone your own GP surgery and follow the instructions of the recorded message.
Walk-in Health Centres
These are an alternative way to access GP services. Any patient can access the centre on a walk-in basis and those living locally can chose to register there. The Centres are open 365 days a year from 8am to 8pm, and are happy to see patients either with or without an appointment. As well as offering patients extended access to GPs it offers a real alternative to A&E by providing rapid access to treatment. The GPs at the centre are supported by a team of nurse practitioners, healthcare assistants, reception and administration staff.
- Reading Walk-in Health Centre - The Centre is located in Broad Street Mall in Reading town centre.
- Slough Walk in Health Centre is based at Upton Hospital
The Future of Primary Care Commissioning
Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) will cease to exist from April 2013 when it is envisaged GP consortia will take over the responsibility for local health care commissioning. It is likely that the function of Primary Care Commissioning will transfer to the Regional Commissioning Boards.
Up to date information is available on the Department of Health website.