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Understanding the role of a GP

18 August, 2016

General practitioners or GP’s are doctors who are trained in general practice. This means they’re trained to help you in a wide range of health issues. Some GP’s also specialise in particular areas like sports medicines or women’s health.

Your GP will most likely be the first point of contact for many of your health concerns.

Better Health Channel outlines the following services that GPs generally offer:

  • diagnosis and treatment of some minor injuries and illnesses
  • referrals to specialist health professionals
  • family practice
  • medical and health check-ups
  • prescriptions for some medicines
  • ·ordering of screenings and medical tests
  • health information and advice

Your GP can also provide you with medical certificates for work or school. They can also perform legal processes like certifying documents or providing reports in relation to motor transport or work accidents.

Finding a GP

You can use the Healthdirect health service tool to find a GP in your area. You can filter the results by those that bulk bill, have telehealth capabilities, and have accessible parking and toilets. 

What to consider when choosing a GP

Asking your network

Ask your friends and family to see if they can recommend a good GP in your area.

Availability and location

When choosing a GP, it’s good idea to ask if it usually takes a long time to get an appointment and if you have to book in advance. You should also consider how close the practice is to your home or work and what their opening hours are. You also might want to ask if the GP does home visits if this is important for you.

Checking the cost

You should check if the practice offers bulk billing or if you’ll need to pay a gap fee. If you’ll need to pay, you can ask how much it will be. If the GP bulk bills, it means you won’t have to pay anything.


You can check if a GP is registered with the Medical Board of Australia. If they are registered, their name will appear on the Register of Practitioners (also known as the public register) and it means they can practice within the scope of their registration.


Your first appointment can help you work out if you’re comfortable communicating with your GP. Are they good at listening to you and do they take time to clarify and absorb what you’re saying? Are they good at communicating ideas and thoughts to you?

Type of practice

Some GP practices and medical centres have numerous GP’s and offer additional services. These services are often all on site and can include pathology, radiology and a pharmacy.


During your appointment, you will have a chance to review the clinic’s premises. Look for a clean and well-maintained space.

After hours care

If you need help after hours and can’t find a GP or pharmacy that is open, you can call Healthdirect’s after hours GP helpline on 1800 022 222. A registered nurse will assess you and may offer you a call back from a GP. The GP will contact you within 15 minutes or 1 hour depending on the urgency of your health issue.

If you need a different type of care

If you’re not sure if you need to see a GP, it’s a good idea to read what care do I need at Healthdirect Australia. They can help you find the right service for your situation.


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