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Hannah

Brief Outline: Hannah rarely goes to the GP but, when she does, she asks for an emergency appointment or goes because of her son. She has generally had a positive experience of GPs but finds appointments difficult to get and that the waiting list is sometimes very long. She feels quite comfortable with doctors and likes seeing one in particular who has known her and her family her whole life.
Background: Hannah is a hairdresser. She lives at home with her parents and 5-year-old son. Ethnic background / nationality: White British.

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As a child Hannah rarely saw the GP. Now she is older, she asks for emergency appointments when she needs to see a doctor or take her son to the surgery. She sees the GP routinely for a repeat prescription for the contraceptive pill every six months. 

Hannah has generally had a positive experience of seeing doctors, though finds waiting times for non-emergency appointments very frustrating, sometimes being up to four weeks. She feels that they have got much worse since her teens. Hannah makes appointments in person very early in the morning as she finds that she is more likely to get one that way than over the phone. When she used to phone to make emergency same-day appointments at 8am, she was sometimes told that they had all been booked as people had been queuing outside the surgery since 7:30am. On one occasion, after she failed to get an appointment for her son who had chickenpox, Hannah had to go to the walk-in centre. Because it was closing, though, she ended up having to go to A&E (Accident and Emergency). 

Hannah feels quite comfortable with doctors as they are professionals, though felt judged a couple of times by the nurse/doctor when she has used ‘off the shelf’ remedies. Hannah has one doctor who she prefers because he knows her whole family and she has been going to him for years. She feels he knows her well and empathises with her and her son’s health problems.

For Hannah, a good GP is understanding and empathetic. She advises doctors and receptionists to give more information and explanation to patients, including reasons why appointments are unavailable and why particular treatments are inappropriate. 
 

Hannah wanted to have a contraceptive implant but felt the nurse put her off. Hannah felt frustrated, looked online for more information, and then went to a clinic instead.

Hannah wanted to have a contraceptive implant but felt the nurse put her off. Hannah felt frustrated, looked online for more information, and then went to a clinic instead.

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There’s just one time I went to the GP because I wanted to have an implant fitted. I can’t remember why the reason, why I wanted an implant then I think because, I think probably I would forget to take my pill quite regularly, which obviously is terrible. 
So, so I think I wanted an implant because I think it was sort of I had it, you know, it lasts for however long and I don’t have to remember to do anything. And then when I went to the, I think I saw the nurse actually and she, I think she was like ‘Oh why do you want to have the implant, you know I think you should-,’ I think that she suggested I had the coil and I didn’t want that, I really wanted it, and she said just go away and think about it. 

So I left a bit frustrated then because I think, once you have something in your head, you want it done straight away. So I think I left feeling frustrated and, in the end, I didn’t get it, so because I decided it wasn’t the right thing for me so yeah.

Did you look for more information about it?

Yeah, I looked online and I also went to like a clinic, you know, a health, a sexual health clinic and they, the clinic said I could have it. But they didn’t have an appointment for it so I changed my mind at that time anyway, so....

So when you first went you spoke to the nurse at the local surgery. In a way she, she slightly put you off it?

Yeah, definitely.

Then you went home, how long did you think about it and then think ‘no I’ll go to the sexual health clinic’?

Just a few days I think, yeah, cos I think I waited until the clinic had, because they had certain opening times, so I think certain days I think I just waited until, I think I waited like three or four days and then I went to the clinic.
 

Hannah realised she needn’t have worried about being judged or asked lots of questions. The GP gave her leaflets about other contraception too.

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Hannah realised she needn’t have worried about being judged or asked lots of questions. The GP gave her leaflets about other contraception too.

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When you went to get the pill the very first time, how did you feel going because –

Yeah obviously I was really nervous because I was 16 I think, so I was nervous because you do think of maybe a doctor as the same, in the same sort of breath as your mum and dad. So you worry that they’re going to, not judge you but yeah, worry that they’re gonna think things of you or ask you lots of questions, which at that age I’m sure you’re not really prepared to answer. So I was worried, but then after I was absolutely fine cos like, after you think oh that really wasn’t that bad, you know.

Can you remember the appointment, can you remember the kinds of questions that the doctor might have asked or anything like that?

I think the doctor asked why I wanted to go on the pill and why the pill specifically because there are obviously other contraceptives available. I think they asked if I had a boyfriend. They didn’t go into detail about amount of sexual partners or anything like that. But yeah I think they just wanted to know if I was actively having sex and why I wanted to go on the pill, yeah.

Did they give you any information about the other -

Yeah I got leaflets, I remember I did get leaflets about all the kinds of contraception and all the pros and cons and, and you know about risk of pregnancy, I guess that they’re not 100% effective and things like that, yeah.
 

Whether Hannah sees the nurse or doctor, she gets a repeat prescription for the pill. She also has her blood pressure taken and her height and weight checked.

Whether Hannah sees the nurse or doctor, she gets a repeat prescription for the pill. She also has her blood pressure taken and her height and weight checked.

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So how often do you have to make an appointment then to?

Every six months.

So every six months and is it always the GP that you see or sometimes a nurse?

No. I see the nurse sometimes. I don’t mind who I see but obviously when I see the nurse, the nurse can’t prescribe me anything so I think then she has to get a signature from the GP for my pill. But usually I call in advance because I know in advance I’m gonna see, that I’m gonna need an appointment, so it’s usually with the GP but I have seen a nurse before.

And is it a different GP every time that you go every six months?

Usually it is, yeah, because they ask me do I mind and I say ‘No, I don’t mind.’

And what happens in the appointments when you go to get the pill?

So they ask me what the appointments for, obviously I guess they can’t see what I have booked in for a certain appointment, so I think they just think it’s a general appointment. So I, and I say I’d like, you know, a repeat of the pill and they’ll look on my file I guess and see what health issues or anything I’ve had in the past. And take blood pressure every time and check weight and height and things. And then yeah usually it’s just a straight forward repeat and I generally get up –

Every six months, yeah.

Yeah.

Is there a chemist nearby?

Yes there is, yeah a two to three minute walk.

Okay so that’s quite handy.

Yeah.

And when you see the nurse does she do the same kind of thing?

Yeah.
 

Hannah went to the surgery at 7.30am to book an appointment. She wishes someone had told her before that it was easier at her practice to make appointments in person.

Hannah went to the surgery at 7.30am to book an appointment. She wishes someone had told her before that it was easier at her practice to make appointments in person.

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I remember calling a few times asking for an emergency appointment. They, we have always known and always been told that if you ring at 8 o’ clock in the morning, then you’ll be able to get an appointment, emergency appointment, or that’s when you should ring. 

And then, you know, you could be on hold or there’s no answer and it’s 8:03, cos I’m ringing constantly from 8:00 to 8:03. And the phone will be answered and there’s no appointments left. And I say well, ‘I’ve been on the phone since two or three minutes to 8 o’ clock and how is that possible?’ And they say that people have been waiting outside since 7:30. I was never told, nor is it advertised anywhere, that if you come to the surgery at 7:30 that it’s more likely that you’re going to get an appointment. 

And I think my mum also probably said that to the receptionist at some point as well because I was never to know. If that was the case, then I would have done that sooner, gone down to the surgery at 7:30. And I had to do that that time recently so it was really frustrating for a while that we didn’t know why there was no appointments left, but it was because you had to go down in the morning, yeah.

And when you did go down in the morning, then you did get the appointment?

Yeah, I did. I’ve only had to do that once but, yeah, I did get an appointment that day.

And at that time it was because you had cystitis?

Yeah.
 

Hannah saw the GP on her own. She worried about what her mum might think if she went on the pill. She rarely got ill but usually saw the GP with her mum.

Hannah saw the GP on her own. She worried about what her mum might think if she went on the pill. She rarely got ill but usually saw the GP with her mum.

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When you go to the doctor now, you probably go on your own? 

Yeah.

When you were younger you went with?

My mum.

With your mum. At what age did you feel comfortable going by yourself?

Possibly about 15 or 16 which was when I think I started, I asked for the pill for the first time was when I was 16. I was probably worried about what my mum would say if I wanted to get the pill, so I went on my own. So yeah I guess about 15 or 16. 

But again, like I said, I wasn’t luckily unwell or anything to have to go often, so I do remember going to the doctor with my mum because mum would say that I’m- like I’d got flu or something like that but never for anything that bad, so I guess yeah about 15 or 16.
 

The walk-in centre was about to close so Hannah had to go to A&E. There, she was given antibiotics for her baby.

The walk-in centre was about to close so Hannah had to go to A&E. There, she was given antibiotics for her baby.

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I had to take my son, he had chicken pox as I said and he was very ill. So I called the doctor, oh that’s right I, my son was about 11 months old when he got the chicken pox and they were really, he was absolutely covered in chicken pox. They were all in his mouth, they were everywhere so he was really unwell. He couldn’t eat or drink anything as he was in a lot of pain. 

So I called the doctor in the afternoon because I was getting really worried about him one day and they said ‘Look we can’t see you’ you know. I was hoping to see them that day, you know, cos there actually has been times where I’ve been able to take him down that day, which I can tell you about after. And they said, ‘Sorry you’re going to have to go to the walk-in centre.’ 

So I think I went to the walk in centre which perhaps closed at about 5:00 or something and they said ‘We can’t see you because we’re closing’. So then I had to take him to A&E.

Did you walk there?

I drove.

You drove, yeah.

And they couldn’t see him, like I wasn’t even allowed in the gate, you know. So then I had to go to A&E and he was in hospital, he wasn’t hospitalised but I was given antibiotics and things like that by the hospital.

That’s quite a long....

Yeah, yeah definitely.

What would have been better in this situation, what would have been more helpful for you?

Just to see my GP if, yeah but I also understand that GPs have appointments, they finish at a certain time and they 99% of the time go over that time and stay late and work through their lunch, you know. I can, I can sympathise with that as well.
 

The family planning clinic offered more tests than Hannah’s local surgery. Young people might feel more comfortable going there than to their doctor.

The family planning clinic offered more tests than Hannah’s local surgery. Young people might feel more comfortable going there than to their doctor.

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There is a family planning clinic which was further away but I knew that it was available. And I had been there as well after going to the GP I think. They offer more tests and things at the family planning clinic and they have, I think also like under 21 sessions I think, which makes you feel a bit more comfortable as well if you’re like 16 or 17, yeah.

Had that been nearer would you have gone there or would you always prefer to have gone to the GP?

I’m not sure if I prefer either at that age, I can’t remember. Now I prefer to go to the GP but yeah, probably I might have preferred the clinic at that age mainly because I would, my friends would go with me and they’d have an appointment as well so we could sort of go together. And again there was, you know, a young person’s session so I guess I felt more comfortable at the clinic.
 

If the nurse had explained the pros and cons of each option, Hannah wouldn’t have had to go to the clinic. She later decided against having an implant.

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If the nurse had explained the pros and cons of each option, Hannah wouldn’t have had to go to the clinic. She later decided against having an implant.

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There’s just one time I went to the GP because I wanted to have an implant fitted. I can’t remember why the reason, why I wanted an implant then I think because, I think probably I would forget to take my pill quite regularly which obviously is terrible. So I think I wanted an implant because I think it was sort of I had it, you know, it lasts for however long and I don’t have to remember to do anything. 
And then when I went to the, I think I saw the nurse actually and she, I think she was like ‘Oh why do you want to have the implant, you know I think you should-,’ I think that she suggested I had the coil and I didn’t want that. I really wanted it [the implant], and she said just go away and think about it. So I left a bit frustrated then because I think once you have something in your head, you want it done straight away. So I think I left feeling frustrated and, in the end, I didn’t get it, so because I decided it wasn’t the right thing for me, so yeah.

Did you look for more information about it?

Yeah, I looked online and I also went to like a clinic, you know, a health, a sexual health clinic. And they, the clinic said I could have it but they didn’t have an appointment for it so I changed my mind at that time anyway, so....

So when you first went you spoke to the nurse at the local surgery, in a way she, she slightly put you off it?

Yeah, definitely.

Then you went home, how long did you think about it and then think no I’ll go to the sexual health clinic?

Just a few days I think yeah, cos I think I waited until the clinic had, because they had certain opening times, so I think certain days. I think I just waited until, I think I waited like three or four days and then I went to the clinic.

So this, what you called earlier the family planning clinic which is like a bus ride away or two bus rides away.

Yeah.

So you went there and you talked to somebody else. What kind of information did they give you?

They, again they gave me the sort of all the pros and cons, the risk of pregnancy with all of them. But I think that when they asked me what I wanted to get out of it, it obviously wasn’t the best option for me. But I guess at the time I didn’t wanna hear that it’s not the best for me because I wanted that for, I can’t really remember why but that was for whatever reason I wanted that, the implant. And it probably wasn’t the best option for me, but yeah I didn’t want to hear that.

Do you think if there was more information about the different options – the pill, the coil, the implant and everything – at the doctors surgery, would that be helpful at all?

Yeah, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the clinic at that point. If I had been told then, I think, about all the options, even though I knew all the options, I think if the nurse had then gone through them at that point and said pros and cons of each in regards to me, then I probably would have listened to her.
 

Hannah used to read leaflets about pregnancy and sexual health. Leaflets on stress and depression would be helpful.

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Hannah used to read leaflets about pregnancy and sexual health. Leaflets on stress and depression would be helpful.

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I think when I was pregnant I would pick up leaflets and things to do with sexual health I guess I would read about, yeah mainly during my pregnancy I would have.

If they were going to make any other leaflets just to put around the surgery especially for younger people say people between 14 and 25/26, are there any subjects you think that would be really interesting to that age group?

I think the first thing that just came into my head was probably like something to do with sort of stress, because I know that a lot of young adults and teenagers do suffer with stress to do with school or making decisions about going to University and things like that. Yeah I guess maybe stress and like a little bit of depression maybe because some teenagers, they go through quite a lot of issues that they need help with and they’re obviously, most of the time I guess they don’t go to the doctor or don’t diagnose anything. So maybe, yeah, I think something like that would be, would have, would be helpful.
 

GP appointments are confidential so it’s important to be honest with the doctor. They won’t judge you because they are there to help.

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GP appointments are confidential so it’s important to be honest with the doctor. They won’t judge you because they are there to help.

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If I was to advise young people about seeing the doctor just, to not be scared because I know it can be scary because you always think of a doctor as somebody like your parents. But they’re never gonna judge you or, yeah try and be as honest as possible because I know that young people, they might lie to the doctor in case they feel judged. But it’s just so private that there’s, there should be really nothing to worry about.
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