Changing your GP and complaints

A person with dementia or their carer may want to change GP. They may prefer a doctor with a special interest in dementia. Find out how to change doctors, surgeries and raise a complaint in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Changing doctors

As the GP often plays an important role in supporting a person with dementia, it is helpful for everyone involved to try and build trust with the same GP.

However, the person with dementia, or their carer, may want to change GP. They may prefer a doctor with a special interest in dementia, or a GP of the same gender. If they want to be registered with another doctor at the practice, speak to staff at reception and ask them if they can change.

Changing surgery or practice

The person may want to change GP surgery or practice, rather than just switch from one doctor to another. If so, they should visit the GP surgery they want to move to, and ask to be registered as a new patient. Be aware that the surgery may not be accepting new patients.

It can help to speak to reception staff and ask if the surgery has doctors who have a specialist interest in dementia before they make a decision. The person doesn’t need to explain why they are changing GP surgery.

Changing doctors in England

In some areas it may be quite difficult to change doctors. If you live in England, your local clinical commissioning group (CCG) can advise you. The GP surgery or Citizens Advice should have the contact details. You can also look on the NHS website.

Changing doctors in Wales

If you live in Wales, the local health board can help you. The GP surgery or local Citizens Advice should have contact details. Alternatively, contact NHS Direct Wales, or look on their website.

Changing doctors in Northern Ireland

If you live in Northern Ireland, The Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland Gateway will be able to provide you with advice and a full list of GP contact details. For more information see ‘Other resources'.

Changing the GP of the person you care for

As a carer, you may wish to change the doctor of the person you care for. Whether you can do this depends on the person’s capacity. If they have the capacity to make this decision, then it is their decision to make. If they are not able to make this decision, you may be able to make the decision.

Generally, it will be the person’s attorney under a health and welfare Lasting power of attorney, or the person’s deputy for personal welfare, who will make this decision and arrange it.

Making a complaint about the GP

There may be times when you or the person with dementia wishes to make a complaint about the GP.

Making a complaint in England

Someone making a complaint in England can access support from the Independent NHS Complaints Advocacy service in their area. Their surgery, the local Citizens Advice or the NHS website can provide contact details. If, after following the complaints procedure, you are still not happy with the outcome you can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

Making a complaint in Wales

In Wales, the local Community Health Council can help with complaints, and NHS Direct Wales can provide you with contact information. If, after following the complaints procedure, you are still not happy with the outcome you can contact the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales.

Making a complaint in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, you can access support with a complaint through the Patient and Client Council. If, after following the complaints procedure, you are still not happy with the outcome, you can contact the Northern Ireland Ombudsman.

For more information see ‘Other resources'. 

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