If you’ve just moved into a new area and need to find a new doctor, you could visit the local hospital for information, or ask friends, neighbours, workmates or your local maternal and child health or community nurse.
It’s OK to make an appointment with the doctor just to ask questions. Feel free to go through the list below. If the doctor meets all your needs but you still don’t feel quite right about them, look for someone else. You need to feel comfortable with your child’s doctor.
When choosing a doctor, ask yourself:
- Is the clinic easy to get to? Can I walk there or take public transport? Is there enough parking?
- Is the clinic friendly? Does the receptionist welcome children? Is the waiting room OK? Is there a bright atmosphere, toys and children’s books, and carpet so that young children can play on the floor? Is there space to park a pusher?
- Is the doctor trained in paediatrics? It’s OK to ask the doctor how much training and experience they have had with children.
- Is the doctor friendly? Do you and your child feel welcome? Look for a doctor who is easy to talk to, who pays attention to your worries and doesn’t rush you. Check whether they treat your child with respect and sensitivity. Do they take the time and trouble to talk or play with your child? Explain things if your child is old enough? Treat your child with special care if they're unwell or anxious?
- Are the office hours convenient? Is there an after hours' service? What arrangements are there for emergencies at nights and weekends? Does the doctor do house calls? Is there a locum who can access your child’s records, or does the clinic use a locum service?
- How quickly can you get an appointment? What about in an emergency? Is the doctor generally on time? When is it busiest and quietest?
- What does the doctor charge? Does the clinic bulk bill? Will they bill you and let you pay later?
If your child needs any significant procedures, like a surgical operation, then you will be asked to give your informed consent. It is important that you fully understand the risks as well as the benefits of a particular procedure.
Your doctor needs to be able to give you balanced and current information, using language that you can understand, so that you know exactly what it is you are saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to. If you feel that the information is not clear, or you do not understand something, then ask your doctor to explain it to you again. If you still do not feel satisfied, find another doctor.