Your health services
Q. How does the NHS work?
A.The NHS explained is a useful site which explains how the NHS is organized and how the funding works
Q. What about the changes this government has made to the NHS?
A.The NHS explained priorities summarises the NHS Plan – the Government’s policy for the new NHS
They both give feedback from various groups of people about the changes to the NHS.
Q. Where can I find out about local GP surgeries?
A.You can find out about all the health services in your local area (including hospitals, pharmacists, special clinics, GP surgeries) from this site
Q. How do I know when to go to the doctor?
A. It can be difficult to decide whether some health problems need to be seen by a professional or not.
Finding out more…conditions and treatments
Q. Is there anywhere I can go to find more information about specific illnesses, like what causes them?
A. Yes, there is lots of good information on the Internet. It’s probably best to start with a health information gateway. You could try the US gateway, Healthfinder or our UK equivalent, NHS Direct Online. This site includes an on-line encyclopaedia of conditions and treatments, links to thousands of good quality information leaflets and helpsheets and information about self-help groups and specialist organizations.
Patient UK is another good place to look for information about particular illnesses. It is edited by two GPs.
Q. Is there any way of finding out how other people have coped with health problems like mine?
A. You might like to join a local self-help group (link to section below) or the DipEx site contains audio and video clips from people who are coping with some specific health conditions. The site will be gradually expanded as new conditions are added.
Finding out more…getting more involved
Q. How can I have a say in what happens to my local health services? A .The system for patient representation in health services is in the process of changing quite radically. Community health councils (CHCs) which have been the ‘patient’s voice’ since 1974, are being abolished and five new bodies are being introduced. For a very helpful explanation of the new system, see this site provided by the Guardian newspaper and the patients voice is the NHS site which will tell you who to contact.
There are also a number of national charitable organizations which represent patients’ interests in the NHS. One is the Patients’ Association
Q. How do I make a complaint about my local hospital?
A. The NHS has a website which will explain how to make a complaint about any health service
You might also be interested in the work of the Healthcare Commission.
Q. How can I get to talk to other people who understand my condition?
A. You might want to contact and perhaps join a self help group. There are various sites which can help you contact a group in your area, the NHS Direct Online site will give details of self help groups for a huge range of conditions:
Self Help UK is a free searchable database of over 1000 self help organizations and support groups throughout the UK that offer information, advice, guidance and support to patients, their families and carers. The site is produced by emseven healthcare, specialists in health care applications on the Internet.
In Scotland, Health Scotland lists a wide range of websites offering health advice and support.
Q. What about self help groups for very rare conditions?
A. The first port of call should be Contact a Family. This is a UK charitable organization which helps to put families of children with rare conditions and syndromes in contact with one another.
The Genetic Education Center at the University of Kansas Medical Centers site provides details of organizations in the US and worldwide who offer support and information on genetic and rare conditions. It includes a section aimed specifically at children and teenagers.
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