What to look for in the setting

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A well-arranged practice or clinic will provide a setting in which you feel comfortable to talk to your doctor. The things to look out for are these:

Is it private, quiet, and not overlooked?

Are interruptions kept to a minimum without intrusive phone calls, bleeps or secretarial enquiries?

Is the room well lit? This may be especially important for older patients who may have poor eyesight or need to lip read.

Is the computer screen available without being obtrusive? The doctor will need to look at the screen to check your results or appointments, but the screen should not provide a barrier between you or a distraction to the doctor, allowing him /her to avoid focusing on you.

Chairs should be placed at an angle, not head on which can be rather confrontational or daunting for a timid person. They need to be close but not crowding.

Is there seating for at least three people? …. Yourself and your companion and the doctor?

Are the appointments adequately timed? Some matters need to be covered in 6 or 10 minutes in a busy GP practice, but more complex matters and new patients may well need a double slot. Hospital appointments may last longer.

Make sure when you make your appointment with the doctor’s receptionist that you are agreed about the duration of your appointment.

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