How to change GP if you don’t like your doctor

You've registered with a GP, but what if you don’t exactly hit it off? Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck with them. Here’s what to do if you don’t like your doctor.

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Can I change my doctor?

Yes, even if it’s just a clash of personality. You can change your GP at any time and don’t have to give a reason. If you’re changing GPs because you’re moving to a new area you’ll need your medical card, NHS number, or proof of your address to register, and then you can make an appointment immediately. They should give you a GMS1 registration form to fill out, then you’re all set.

If you like the surgery, but not your GP, you can simply ask to see another doctor with no questions asked.

Can I get a second opinion?

If you’re not happy with your doctor’s diagnosis, treatment or advice, it’s possible to book an appointment with another doctor or consultant to ask for a second opinion. You don’t have a legal right to a second opinion though, so if your GP refuses your request you might want to consider changing them altogether.

If you do get referred for a second opinion, you can’t insist on seeing a particular doctor, but you shouldn’t be referred to someone you don’t wish to see.

Before asking for a second opinion on your medical condition, it’s worth asking your GP or consultant to go over anything you don’t understand or are unhappy about. If you request a second opinion, be aware that this will not take priority and you may have to wait. It’s also likely that the doctor or consultant you’re referred to will reach the same conclusions.

There are other options if you’re still not happy, or want to check out an alternative approach. For details, take a look at our article ‘I need to see a doctor’.

Can I complain about my doctor?

Yes, if you’re unhappy with your treatment you have the right to complain. It’s also possible to complain on behalf of someone else. All GP practices have a written complaints procedure – ask at the reception or check out the website for details.

In the first instance you should talk to your GP about your complaint, or put it in writing. As awkward as this may be, try and be as open as you can. If you can’t face them you can approach the practice manager, or alternatively you can raise it with the relevant commissioning body, basically the next level up from the GP practice, which is likely to be NHS England.

Most cases are resolved at this stage. However, if it’s more serious you can get in touch with the Parliamentary and Health Services Ombudsman, which is independent of NHS services and the government.

Taking your complaint to this level can be daunting, but help is available from your local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), who offer confidential advice and support. You can also get confidential advice from Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).

When should I complain about my doctor?

Ideally as soon as possible, but you have 12 months from the date the incident occurred. If your situation makes it difficult to complain within this period it may be possible to extend the deadline. However, it must still be possible to investigate the complaint, so the sooner you speak up the easier it will be to resolve your issue. Check out our article on how to complain about a GP for more information.

Next Steps


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Updated on 16-Sep-2022