With changes in the NHS, it’s important to know how this affects you.

My father faces a second prostate operation; last time, he was left thirsty and his ward was dirty. How can I check he’s being looked after properly?

Get your father to ask to look at his overall medical records, then you can see them too. Look also at the chart on the end of his bed, as this notes when he is monitored by nursing staff. This will help you check he is being seen often enough and offered hydration. Observe the ward staff – are they friendly, helpful, kind? – and see he has an adequate supply of water by his bedside when you come in. Make sure a call buzzer is within his reach. The Patients Association has launched the CARE Campaign, asking Trusts to sign up to a CARE Challenge that “all patients should get assistance when they call for help, encouragement to eat and drink, assistance with going to the toilet, and have their pain addressed”. Ask the ward manager (formerly the sister) if your hospital has signed up.

Description: How can I check he’s being looked after properly?

How can I check he’s being looked after properly?


Concerns about cleanliness? Speak with the ward manager. The Care Quality Commission will have inspected the hospital, so checks its latest report (cqc.co.uk).

My practice has written to say that it’s streamlining its lists and removing me, but I want to say.

If practice boundaries have altered, then the surgery is within its rights, but you should be given plenty of notice – about a month. You can write to the practice manager and ask for an exception to be made on grounds such as living very close to the boundary, a need for continuity of care for an ongoing problem or a long-standing relationship with the practice. You could mention the low likelihood of needing a home visit (ie no elderly or infirm patients), but they’re under no obligation.


The Primary Care Trust (PCT) has a legal obligation to provide you with a GP service. NHS Choices (nhs.uk) provides a search tool – type in your postcode and a list of GPs in your area will appear. This includes all the basic info about the practice. You can also find contact details for your PCT there.

Our Experts

·         Katherine Murphy is the chief executive of healthcare charity The Patients Association (patients-association.com).

·         Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard is a GP principal in Lichfield, assistant hon treasures of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), senior lecture at the University of Birmingham, and mentor for “doctor in difficulty”.

How Good Is My Gp?

·         There are two schemes that demonstrate a practice is high quality, says the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). Quality Practice Awards are awarded to surgeries that provide exceptional care. Practice Accreditation is given when your GPs have shown independent experts they can provide safe, high-quality and responsive care.

·         You can now rate and comment (and see what others think) about your GP’s surgery here: nhs.uk/servicedirectories/pages/servicesearch.aspx?servicetype=GP

My doctor won’t prescribe a new statin, which is more expensive but may have fewer side effects. Can I insist?

Sorry, but you can’t insist. Doctors work to official guidance about which drugs can be prescribed. These come from your PCT or Health Boards (for Scotland or Wales), and reflect the decisions of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) or other regulatory bodies. Patients usually get prescribed the approved drugs first, but if there are real problems with side effects, an alternative is usually offered.

Description: Doctor

My doctor won’t prescribe a new statin, which is more expensive but may have fewer side effects. Can I insist?


Ask if your choice is due to come off patent as this will make it cheaper. All drugs as this will make it cheaper. All drugs are protected by a ten-year patent period so the manufacturer can recoup development costs. Simvastatin – the most commonly prescribed – is now more than ten years old, and available as a “generic”, meaning anyone can make it. Other statins, such as atorvastatin, should be more widely available soon.

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