General practice services

Your local GP practice team is the main point of contact for general healthcare for NHS Scotland. They’re there to support you to get the right kind of care when you need it.

GP practices are made up of multi-disciplinary teams which could include:

  • General Practitioners (GPs)
  • Advanced Nurse Practitioners
  • General Practice Nurses
  • Practice Manager
  • Receptionists
  • Physiotherapists

Registering with a GP practice

If you live in Scotland you can register with a GP practice.

When to contact your GP practice

Before you contact your GP practice:

  • use a self-help guide for advice on everyday aliments
  • check the A to Z of symptoms
  • speak to your local pharmacist for advice on common ailments, their treatments and medication

If it’s an emergency call 999.

Your GP practice team is available (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm) if you:

  • have an urgent care need
  • have an illness that does not improve with self-treatment
  • are worried about your health
  • have an ongoing health condition

GP practice teams will have confidential access to your past medical history.

They also provide the link to other health services and work closely with other health and social care workers.

Who you’ll see or speak to at a GP practice

When you contact the GP practice, the receptionist will ask you for some general information. They’ll then help you to connect with the best person for your problem.

The role of the receptionist

GP practice receptionists are trained to guide you to the best care.

More information on the role of receptionists

When you phone your local GP practice you’ll normally speak to a receptionist. They can:

  • provide basic information on services
  • give messages and information from your healthcare professional, including test results
  • direct you to the right person, depending on your health needs or query

Reception teams do not make clinical decisions, but they’ve had training to help signpost patients get to the most appropriate service.

When making an appointment, they’ll need to know your:

  • name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • contact details

This is to ensure they know they’re talking to the right person. This also ensures that if they need to call you back for any reason, they’ve got the information they need to do that.

To help you get the most appropriate care, receptionists need to have an outline of the reason you are calling. This means you might need to share some of your own health information with them.

Practice receptionists, patient advisors and care co-ordinators all have an important role in supporting you to access the care you need. The information you give to them helps the GP or other healthcare professional to plan their workload for the day, so that patients in the greatest need are dealt with first.

Everyone who provides an NHS service is bound to keep your private health information confidential, including the reception team. You don’t need to share very detailed information but you could think before you call about how you might describe your symptoms to a friend.

Reception teams are there to help you.

For some injuries and illnesses, it may be necessary to speak to a GP. However, there are other clinical experts that work in a GP practice and it might be more appropriate for you to speak to them. This includes:

  • General Practice Nurses
  • Advanced Nurse Practitioners
  • Pharmacists
  • Community Mental Health Nurses
  • District Nurses
  • Health Visitors
  • Learning Disability Nurses
  • Physiotherapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Paramedics
  • Health Care Support Workers
  • Community Link Workers
  • Physician Assistants

A member of the practice team will give you advice and provide medicine if needed. If they feel that your condition needs further investigation or specialist care they may direct you to another healthcare professional like:

  • a Dentist
  • an Optometrist
  • another NHS service

Making an appointment at a GP practice

In most cases, you need to book an appointment ahead of time to speak to a member of your GP practice team.

Appointments can be made online through some practice websites or by phoning the practice directly.


Always make sure you have enough repeat prescription medication and basic remedies at home. Make sure you order well in advance ahead of public holidays.

Further advice on prescriptions

Phone and video appointments with your GP practice

Many GP practice appointments are now carried out over the phone or through NHS Near Me. This is a secure and easy way to video call a healthcare professional using your computer, tablet or mobile phone.

Telephone and Near Me appointments may not be suitable for everything and everyone. There may be a need to see a member of the team in person for a physical examination or if tests need to be carried out. The practice team will discuss this with you to help you decide which is the best option for you.

If you’re unable to use these technologies, please let your GP practice team know. They’ll be able to help you make sure you get the right kind of appointment for you.

Complaints and feedback

If you’re unhappy with the service you’ve received at your GP practice, ask to talk to the practice manager so they can try to sort the matter out immediately.

If you can’t do this, or if you have already spoken to your GP practice and are still unhappy, you can contact the feedback and complaints team at your local NHS health board.

Further advice on making a complaint about your NHS care or treatment

Last updated:
13 January 2023

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