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Louis

Brief Outline: Louis rarely sees the GP as he is usually healthy. He would like surgeries to open at the weekends so that he can get an appointment without missing school.
Background: Louis is at school and lives with his parents and brother. Ethnic background / nationality: White British.

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Louis rarely sees the GP as he is usually healthy. The earliest experience he remembered was going with his mum at the age of six or seven to check on something minor. Now he goes about twice a year. He last went because of a cold he’d had for several weeks. The doctor, who Louis found reassuring, prescribed him pills for congestion but Louis felt that the appointment was a bit rushed. He wishes the doctor had taken the time to explain what the tablets were for, what they were going to do, and for how long he’d have to take them.

Louis’ mum usually phones the local practice when he needs an appointment and they usually get one that week. Before going, he often looks up his symptoms on the NHS Choices website ‘just to find out you’ve got a chest infection and not pneumonia’, but finds that his searches usually yield the most severe condition.

Whenever possible, Louis tries to get an appointment before school. As most surgeries open during school hours, he would like surgeries to open over the weekends. Louis didn’t know he could book appointments online but thinks this can offer more flexibility for young people. He has mixed feelings about telephone consultations, though, and feels that face-to-face meetings are more suitable for health assessments and more reassuring for patients.

Louis doesn’t mind being seen by a different doctor every time. He feels that if he wants to be seen in a reasonable time, he can’t be picky. Ideally he would like to see the same GP each time and develop a relationship over time.

For Louis, a good GP is someone who is reassuring, confident and takes the time to explain things. He remembers visiting a junior doctor once who had to leave the room halfway through the consultation to ask a senior doctor’s opinion. Louis found the doctor’s confusion stressful. He also prefers it when GPs make an effort to connect with young people, and speak to them directly rather than to parents. 

Louis feels that there are several changes doctors’ surgeries could make to be more welcoming to young people, including having more comfortable chairs which would make the waiting rooms look friendlier. He likes the touchscreen check-in because he feels that it’s more private and non-judgmental. He felt that receptionists can be a bit cold and condescending sometimes, and that they shouldn’t ask patients why they would like to see a doctor.

Louis would like to see more information at the surgery on youth-related health topics such as smoking, drinking and skin health, and school-related topics such as stress and depression. He feels that a lot of people struggle with exam stress but never see a GP because they don’t know that they can seek help for it. 

Louis believes that healthcare services could reach more young people on social media sites, such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, where they could provide information on doctor-patient confidentiality, practical guidelines on how to book appointments, and the range of issues people can discuss with a doctor.
 

The chemist is walking distance from the GP surgery. Louis’ parents buy painkillers and other over-the-counter treatments at the supermarket.

The chemist is walking distance from the GP surgery. Louis’ parents buy painkillers and other over-the-counter treatments at the supermarket.

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And then sometimes you’ve had a prescription, would you…where would you take that?

There's a pharmacy which is kind of opposite on the road, so it's really easy to walk to there and get it as well. So it's all quite close by, yeah, a walking distance.

Have you got any memories or opinions of the pharmacists that you’ve seen over the years?

Not really, it's kind of a different one each time kind of who's working there, but no it's quite professional, kind of quick. You just get a prescription and they go and get it and then you leave so, yeah, just quite…nothing really.

So do you pretty much always go to that one or do you use any pharmacies at the supermarkets or anywhere else?

Not really, I only use that one cos it's just near to the GP and it's the only time I really use a pharmacy.

So have you been to the pharmacy, or your parents been to the pharmacy, for small things that you can just get over the counter instead of …?

Usually we kind of buy Nurofen or stuff like that at supermarkets or stuff, like we don’t really use the pharmacy for any other things apart from prescription stuff cos you can kind of get it all in the supermarket.
 

Mental health, exams, smoking, alcohol, drugs, and relationships worry young people. GPs should have leaflets about the range of emotional problems they can help with.

Mental health, exams, smoking, alcohol, drugs, and relationships worry young people. GPs should have leaflets about the range of emotional problems they can help with.

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I think definitely stress to do with exams, maybe depression kind of to do with exams as well.  Definitely like smoking and alcohol, kind of drug abuse as well and the effects of that; and relationships too would be, I think would be useful.

Would you say they…those were the top issues that young people are…?

Yeah, and mental health as well I think are the top issues that kind of young people are concerned about.

And some of these issues, like stress before exams or stress about a relationship or something, would you think young people would go to see the GP about that sort of stress?  Do they know that they can or not?

I don’t think…I think they think they're time wasting if they’ve just got stress over exams cos they think everyone, you know, is already stressed.  I think they won't go unless they’ve got really serious kind of, really stressed and got an issue, but I don’t think they would otherwise.

So we could have some information like that on the website.  What other ways can we get young people to know what reasons they can see the GP?  How is it best to get to young people?

Probably on social media, probably maybe social media campaign about what you can go and see a doctor about.  Leaflets in… the doctor's surgery as well I think…or maybe just kind of GPs telling them when they see them that they can speak to them about it if they ever need to, that would be helpful.

And if GPs…say a young person went to see a GP and the GP gave them a leaflet about that sort of thing, would that be helpful at all?

I think definitely after like maybe they’ve seen an unrelated issue, maybe even if they don’t think that the person's stressed out or needs help like that; it might just be helpful just, in the future; if they do need it and they can kind of relate back to the leaflet and think, oh yeah, I can go and see the doctor about that.
 

Louis would prefer to book online appointments as it would be easier than phoning again and again in the morning. He could book online in his own time.

Louis would prefer to book online appointments as it would be easier than phoning again and again in the morning. He could book online in his own time.

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Your mum usually phones to make the appointment. Has she…have you or she ever booked an appointment online or always over the phone?

Always over the phone. I didn’t really know you could book online and I don’t think she knew either, so it's always on the phone.

So sometimes people have mentioned in some surgeries you can book online.

Yeah

Do you think that would be something that you would consider, or you prefer to use the phone?

I think it would be helpful maybe if you wanted to book something with a specific doctor, you'd be able to see when they have appointments. I think if I knew about it, I think we'd use it but I'm not sure if my mum would cos she's not kind of with the technology. I think she'd find it a bit scary to use it, to book on doctors.

But if you were going to book one for yourself, you know in a few years' time, say when…?

Yeah, definitely. I think it's easier than having to ring up the doctors. You can kind of do it in your own time. You don’t have to be like at 8am in the morning when it opens, ringing. You can kind of book it before cos you don’t need to have someone to pick up the phone, so I think I'd use it definitely.
 

Louis would rather get an appointment with any GP than wait a week to see his own doctor. Booking an appointment involves making lots of phone calls in the morning.

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Louis would rather get an appointment with any GP than wait a week to see his own doctor. Booking an appointment involves making lots of phone calls in the morning.

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Who do you usually go with when you go?

It depends who you can get an appointment with in the morning cos they always leave some free in the morning, but it depends who's free. I don’t usually try to get a [particular] GP cos I don’t really see the point of waiting maybe an extra week or a few days just to see it, one person, so I don’t really mind who it is. So, usually just the person who's free on that day. 

So it could be any of the GPs?

Yeah, anyone there, yeah.

So you…to get an appointment that day, you have to phone in the morning, or even that week?

Yeah, they always leave some free for each day, but when you rang up in the morning it's usually like engaged, so there's not usually a chance to get through to anyone. But you have to keep calling, calling, calling. But yeah, if you want to book an appointment for the week, you usually get one for the week with the doctor you want. But if you want one on the day, you'll just have to go with anyone, yeah.

So who usually phones and makes the appointment?

It's usually my mum, yeah.

So she usually makes the appointment; does she usually go with you as well?

Yeah usually, or my dad depending whoever's home, yeah.

And when do you usually try to have the appointment because normally Monday to Friday you would be at school?

Usually try for before school; I kind of come in a bit late with a note or after school so like, like six to seven, something like that.
 

The receptionists are ‘usually alright’ but sometimes might seem ‘a bit condescending’. Young people might dislike being asked why they want to see the GP or may know the receptionist.

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The receptionists are ‘usually alright’ but sometimes might seem ‘a bit condescending’. Young people might dislike being asked why they want to see the GP or may know the receptionist.

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And obviously yeah, like the keyboard kiosk thingy, that’s quite good cos if maybe they don’t want to speak to the receptionist, a person, they might feel like they're judging them, so if they have like the keyboard it's just easier to sign in and stuff.

Do you feel that young people are more comfortable kind of signing in rather than having to speak to a receptionist?

Definitely, yeah.

Yeah. Do you think there's any reasons for that if the doctors are trying to understand what are the reasons and what can we do to help?

Yeah. Maybe if they think…maybe they're a bit condescending, the receptionist, or a bit cold. Or maybe they [the patient] just don’t want to speak to a human being, they just want it…just want to speak to the doctor – you know they might be scared, they might ask them about what they're going to see the doctor about, or if they know the receptionist as well.

Have you had any instances where you’ve had, you know, had any opinions about the receptionist?

Sometimes they can be a bit rude, well seem a bit rude on the phone, but usually they're alright to be honest.
 

It can be hard to ask a parent to leave the consultation room so it would be better coming from the GP. Louis trusts his doctor and finds her easy to speak to.

It can be hard to ask a parent to leave the consultation room so it would be better coming from the GP. Louis trusts his doctor and finds her easy to speak to.

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So at the moment you’ve usually gone with one of your parents?

Yeah.

Has the GP ever asked to speak to you on your own at all or whether you would like to?

No.

Is that something you would like or has it…how do you feel, has it been…?

It's never really occurred to me but I think it might be nice if they did ask me that cos it's kind of hard to let your parents know ‘I don’t really want you here mum’, something like that. Maybe if the kind of doctor said that, it might be easier, yeah.

So maybe at the end of the consultation to say, "Can I speak to you on your own for a few minutes," would that help?

Yeah, that would probably, I think, would be easier to say something which you might not want to say in front of your parents.

Yeah. So at the moment you go with one of your parents. Have you ever been by yourself at all or?

No.

No. Would you feel comfortable going or not at the moment?

I think I would feel comfortable going by myself, maybe more if I knew the GP a bit more rather than just a random one. But I think I'd feel comfortable going cos I kind of trust them that they'd kind of just give me the same treatment as if my parents were there.

So if you were going to see your family doctor rather than a random one as you mentioned.

Yeah.

Would you feel comfortable?

Yeah, definitely cos she's a really, really good doctor and really kind of reassuring and nice just to speak to.
 

Most of the GPs at Louis’ local surgery are very good. He’s seen the same ones for many years.

Most of the GPs at Louis’ local surgery are very good. He’s seen the same ones for many years.

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So is there anything else you'd like to say about your GP or the nurses or the local surgery at all?

I think they do a pretty good job and you usually don’t have to wait too long for a wait. And most of the GPs there are really good and I kind of know them all, well kind of very loosely but no, they always seem to be very nice and good doctors.

So if someone moved into the area quite new, would you recommend that surgery?

Yeah definitely, definitely.

And if they're saying, "I'm thinking of registering with a GP," would you actually mention the one…your family doctor or would you…?

I think I would mention my family doctor because they're very good, so I probably would mention that, kind of recommend to see, well you know I've had her for so many years and it's always kind of…they’ve been always been really good. So I probably would recommend that one, yeah my doctor, my GP.
 

Louis definitely trusts that his GP appointments are confidential unless it was something serious.

Louis definitely trusts that his GP appointments are confidential unless it was something serious.

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Do you trust that your appointment is confidential?

Oh yeah, definitely, I'd trust that they won't…they're not just going to go and blab to like the receptionist about what's happened, and trust that it's kind of all confidential. 

And if you went on your own to see your… to see your doctor without your mum, do you feel that appointment will be confidential or does it depend?

I think, I think it depends on how serious it is. So maybe they might have to call my parents if it's like really serious, but I don’t know, that’s what I think.
 

Young people might ‘shy away’ from clinics at the GP surgery. It could be embarrassing seeing someone there if you don’t know them very well.

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Young people might ‘shy away’ from clinics at the GP surgery. It could be embarrassing seeing someone there if you don’t know them very well.

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I'm not sure cos if they did a clinic I might see other people I knew there which might, you know, make me feel a bit awkward if I saw them. But it might be useful just…yeah cos then they'd have like a special time cos if they are at school, they might not want to miss school, so it would be handy; maybe if they had priority over certain times. But I'm not sure if you need to put loads of young people together if they kind of want a private kind of chat with the doctor, might be…it might kind of make them shy away from going to the doctors at that time.

Just wait till…is this a change of lessons?

Yeah.

So you mentioned that …just going back to what you said – you might see more young people there but, at the same time, during that time young people should be the priority?

Yeah.

Do you think there's an issue about seeing people from your class at the GPs, do you think it's a bit embarrassing or how do you feel?

I think it might be a bit embarrassing cos they might ask you what…why you're going there and you might not want to tell them if it's private. But my school's kind of far away from my house so I wouldn’t maybe see people from school maybe, to people I know from the local area, that might be a bit awkward too.

So what would…say you saw…you're not so close to school, but say you did see someone from your class there – would that be something embarrassing or depends who it is or how…?

It depends who it is and depends kind of what I'm going to the surgery, but it might be…it would be a bit awkward if it was maybe a private issue I was going to see the doctor and they might kind of ask me what…why I'm going there or....But if I knew them, if I was quite friendly with them, then it would be alright; maybe just chat to them while I'm waiting. But if I kind of didn’t know them and it was a bit awkward, I think I'd definitely feel embarrassed.

And if you saw someone from your local area there, would that make you feel just as awkward?

I think it would be just as awkward depending on how well I know them or how close I was or how friendly I was with them or…yeah that depends on that.
 

It’s good when GPs direct their questions to the young person and not their parent. Young people can explain what’s wrong with them.

It’s good when GPs direct their questions to the young person and not their parent. Young people can explain what’s wrong with them.

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Is there any message that you would like to give to health professionals – GPs let's say – that…from young people, anything that they could improve?

Kind of treat us on our own, not kind of with parents, so kind of ask us the questions. Don’t ask parents and always kind of ask…like try and be confidential and stuff like that; just try and trust in the young person that is telling exactly what is wrong with them because they are the person who's ill, so not the parent.
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