If you’ve just been diagnosed with a condition or you’re still looking for a diagnosis, it’s likely that you’ll have lots of questions. Unfortunately it’s easy to forget to ask important questions when you’re in the consultation room.
If you think your appointment might go on for longer than 10 minutes let reception know when you book it. They may be able to give you a longer slot with your GP. Some specialist appointments often vary in length so preparation is even more important.
Can you explain what my condition is and how it may affect my day-to-day life?
Dr Iley: “Whether you have a minor health concern or a long-term condition, it’s important that you understand how it will affect you. Knowing how your condition works will be the first step in your journey to recovery. Once you understand your condition, you’ll be able to start looking into your treatment choices. This is also a good time to make any lifestyle changes that will make living with your condition easier. You can also work out if you’ll need to take any time off work so you can give your employer plenty of notice.
Why do you think I've developed this condition?
Dr Iley: “This question will help you find out the cause of your condition so you can look for ways to stop it getting worse or help ease your symptoms. You can also identify self-help measures that will make your life a little easier.
Can this condition cause other health problems for me?
Dr Iley: “Sometimes a condition can lead to other health problems. If you’re aware of these from the beginning there may be things you can do to prevent them.
What should I do if I start to feel unwell? What symptoms should I look out for?
Dr Iley: “It’s important that you can recognise the symptoms of your condition or any complications related to your condition in case you need immediate treatment. It’s a good idea to tell your close friends and family of what to look out for.
Is my condition hereditary?
Dr Iley: “Some conditions get worse over time, so informing family members that your condition may be hereditary could allow them to get treatment before it develops”.
It's possible that you’ll need tests to make sure you get an accurate diagnosis.
What does this test involve and what should I expect?
Dr Iley: "Any medical procedure, including tests, can be daunting. Managing your expectations will help you to deal with any worry you’re feeling ahead of the test. Knowing what the test involves beforehand also gives you the opportunity to raise any concerns you have before your appointment".
Are there any risks associated with this test and how do they apply to me?
Dr Iley: “Your doctor should explain any risk involved but if they haven’t it’s important to ask about how they apply to you. Understanding the risks will help you to make a decision about your tests based on research as well as your own personal values.
Are there any alternatives to this test?
Dr Iley: “Your doctor will have suggested a specific test for a reason. But make sure you have an open discussion about your options so you can make a decision together. Being aware of all the options available to you will allow you to choose an alternative if you’re unhappy with the test your doctor has suggested.
How long will I have to wait for my test results?
Dr Iley: “Asking this question can give you peace of mind if you haven’t had your results for a couple of days. Your doctor should be able to give you an estimated timeframe. However, it’s important to remember that this is just an estimate and occasionally things get held up.
How should I prepare for my test?
Dr Iley: “Some tests have specific requirements that you’ll need to follow so make sure you’re aware of them before the day of your appointment. Not knowing you have to stop taking medication or follow a special diet could result in your appointment being postponed, which could slow down your treatment”.
You should have a thorough understanding of your condition and your different options before you make any decisions about your treatment. The questions you should ask may vary based on your individual circumstances. However, it’s a good idea to ask your doctor questions about your options, what the treatment involves and what will happen following your treatment.
What are my treatment options?
Dr Iley: “It’s good to be aware of all your different treatment options so you know you’re making an informed decision. Although your doctor may suggest a specific treatment, you should make a joint decision based on research and your personal values.
What are the risks associated with the different treatment options?
Dr Iley: “Most treatments come with possible risks and side-effects. These will be different for different people so it’s important that you’re aware of any that are related to you and your treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to explain further if there’s anything you don’t understand.
Will the treatment cure my condition?
Dr Iley: “Unfortunately not all conditions can be cured. Asking your doctor about the likelihood of your condition being cured after your treatment will allow you to manage your expectations. Your treatment may be to help relieve your symptoms, so it’s important that you find this out beforehand.
Who will carry out my treatment?
Dr Iley: “Finding out some information about the doctor carrying out your treatment and their experience may help to manage any nerves or worries you have prior to your appointment.
Can the condition come back after treatment?
Dr Iley: “Your journey to recovery doesn’t always stop when you’ve finished your treatment. Ask your doctor about taking care of yourself after your treatment and how likely it is that your condition will come back. Depending on your condition and how you developed it, you may need to make changes to your lifestyle and diet to keep looking after yourself.
What are the alternatives to having treatment?
Dr Iley: “Depending on your condition and what caused it, you might be able to make changes to your lifestyle to ease the symptoms of your condition. It’s usually recommended that you try self-help measures before considering treatment or surgery”.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get an appointment with your GP, and you might find yourself on a long waiting list. Living with a condition can affect your quality of life, which can make it difficult to carry on as normal while you’re waiting for treatment.
If you’re struggling to get an appointment with your usual GP, Bupa On Demand may be able to help you get on the road to recovery.
Book a private consultation with Bupa On Demand
Bupa On Demand gives you prompt access to pay-as-you-go private healthcare. Whether you need a private GP appointment, initial consultation or treatment, we should be able to help you, and you don’t need health insurance.
Our consultations can be used in conjunction with NHS treatment so you have no obligation to continue your treatment journey with us.
Supporting you in times of need
We understand that living with a condition or developing an illness can be a worrying time, so we aim to make the diagnosis, test and treatment process as stress-free for you as we can.
We pride ourselves on offering and arranging a high level of care and support. When you speak to one of our healthcare advisers they will guide you through the process at every stage and you’ll be assigned a case manager who will be just a phone call away.
If you want support out of office hours, you and your family will be able to call our 24-hour Anytime HealthLine. This service offers health information and guidance on most health-related issues from qualified nurses.
Private GP appointments – what to expect
When you visit one of our doctors, you’ll usually be assigned a 15 minute appointment. Normally this is plenty of time but if you think you might need longer, just let us know. Extended appointments will cost a little more but are usually available.
15 minute appointments start at £70.
Private GP appointments can be used for:
- Advice and support on minor illnesses
- Travel health advice
- Women’s health assessments
- Private prescriptions
- Referrals to specialist consultants
When you speak to one of our advisers they’ll be able to set the wheels into motion for your journey to recovery.
Find out more about booking a private GP appointment.
If you’re struggling to get an appointment with your GP and want to find out more about your rights, read this guide from the NHS.
For more information about how Bupa On Demand works, take a look over our guide to getting private treatment.
We’d love to know what you think about what you’ve just been reading and looking at – we’ll use it to improve our information. If you’d like to give us some feedback, our short form below will take just a few minutes to complete. And if there's a question you want to ask that hasn't been answered here, please submit it to us. Although we can't respond to specific questions directly, we’ll aim to include the answer to it when we next review this topic.
Let us know what you think using our short feedback form
Produced by Dylan Merkett, Bupa Health Content Team, November 2015.
About our health information
At Bupa we produce a wealth of free health information for you and your family. We believe that trustworthy information is essential in helping you make better decisions about your health and care. Here are just a few of the ways in which our core editorial principles have been recognised.
We are certified by the Information Standard. This quality mark identifies reliable, trustworthy producers and sources of health information.
What our readers say about us
But don't just take our word for it; here's some feedback from our readers.
“Simple and easy to use website - not alarming, just helpful.”
“It’s informative but not too detailed. I like that it’s factual and realistic about the conditions and the procedures involved. It’s also easy to navigate to areas that you specifically want without having to read all the information.”
“Good information, easy to find, trustworthy.”
Meet the team
Head of Health Content
- Dylan Merkett – Lead Editor
- Graham Pembrey - Lead Editor
- Laura Blanks – Specialist Editor, Quality
- Michelle Harrison – Specialist Editor, Insights
- Natalie Heaton – Specialist Editor, User Experience
- Fay Jeffery – Web Editor
- Marcella McEvoy – Specialist Editor, Content Portfolio
- Alice Rossiter – Specialist Editor (on Maternity Leave)
Our core principles
All our health content is produced in line with our core editorial principles – readable, reliable, relevant – which are represented by our diagram.
In a nutshell, our information is jargon-free, concise and accessible. We know our audience and we meet their health information needs, helping them to take the next step in their health and wellbeing journey.
We use the best quality and most up-to-date evidence to produce our information. Our process is transparent and validated by experts – both our users and medical specialists.
We know that our users want the right information at the right time, in the way that suits them. So we review our content at least every three years to keep it fresh. And we’re embracing new technology and social media so they can get it whenever and wherever they choose.
Here are just a few of the ways in which the quality of our information has been recognised.
The Information Standard certification scheme
You will see the Information Standard quality mark on our content. This is a certification programme, supported by NHS England, that was developed to ensure that public-facing health and care information is created to a set of best practice principles.
It uses only recognised evidence sources and presents the information in a clear and balanced way. The Information Standard quality mark is a quick and easy way for you to identify reliable and trustworthy producers and sources of information.
Certified by the Information Standard as a quality provider of health and social care information. Bupa shall hold responsibility for the accuracy of the information they publish and neither the Scheme Operator nor the Scheme Owner shall have any responsibility whatsoever for costs, losses or direct or indirect damages or costs arising from inaccuracy of information or omissions in information published on the website on behalf of Bupa.
British Medical Association (BMA) patient information awards
We have received a number of BMA awards for different assets over the years. Most recently, in 2013, we received a 'commended' award for our online shared decision making hub.
If you have any feedback on our health information, we would love to hear from you. Please contact us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can write to us:
Health Content Team
Battle Bridge House
300 Grays Inn Road