What you can do if you are struggling to get a GP appointment

Published: 20 March 2023

We know that some people are waiting longer than usual for appointments with their doctor. This can be frustrating and worrying, whether you are waiting for test results, trying to get a fit note or you have questions about your medication.


Here we explain what other support options may be available. 

A white woman with short brown hair and glasses.

Ros Digital Content Editor at Macmillan

1. Check the appointment options offered by your GP surgery

It’s worth finding out more about your GP surgery appointment system, if you haven’t already. For example:

  • Can you arrange for a phone or online appointment? Sometimes these are available sooner than waiting for a face to face GP appointment.
  • Does your GP release appointments at a certain time of day? Try phoning first thing in the morning, if more appointments are released on the day.
  • Check your GP's website. They may have an online request form you can use to ask questions or to book appointments.
  • Ask if someone else at the medical centre can help. For example, you may be able to get an appointment with a nurse for advice, blood tests and for some types of prescriptions.

If you need any help with making an appointment, maybe ask a friend or relative to contact your surgery on your behalf. Read our tips for talking to your doctor, nurse or GP Practice.

2. Speak to someone else in your care team or contact a pharmacist 

Lots of people are worried about pressures on cancer care within the NHS. We know that waiting for results and worries about delayed cancer treatment might affect your general health and wellbeing.

Speak to other healthcare professionals

There may be other people involved in your care who you can ask for advice. For example, you may have contact details for someone from your cancer team, or a community or district nurse, or a palliative care team.

Ask a pharmacist or visit one of our Macmillan Cancer Centres

Many pharmacies are open until late and at weekends. You do not need an appointment.

Through Macmillan’s partnership with Boots, there’s over 4,200 Boots Macmillan Information Pharmacists available in Boots stores around the UK. They have been trained to understand more about the impact of a cancer diagnosis, treatments and how to support people living with, and affected by, cancer.  

It can be upsetting when you can't get through to your GP, especially if you are worried about cancer. It might help to take short break, before trying the other options we talk about here.

If you get stuck, you can call our Macmillan Support Line for free and we will listen.

“We’ll always be at the end of the phone for people living with cancer, for whatever they need to ask." Ellen, Clinical Information Manager, Macmillan Support Line

3. Use NHS 111 or GP out of hours for urgent medical problems

Depending on where you live in the UK, you may also be able to get advice by using NHS 111 or GP out of hours.

There’s more information for each country and the NHS 111 British Sign Language Service.

These services can help with urgent medical problems. But always call 999 for life or limb-threatening emergencies.

Find out more:

111 is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

4. Join our Online Community

Our Online Community is a free online place for people who are affected by cancer to chat about the issues affecting them. Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The team has compiled advice with input from clinical and cancer support experts across the organisation to help people affected by cancer to feel as prepared as possible when seeking care or treatment. Read the Community blog - Tips on navigating the health service.

5. Contact us 

Call our free Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 0000. Lines are open 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm.

  • Our cancer information and support specialists can offer guidance and help you find the right information and support.
They will help you understand what to expect from your diagnosis and share key information to help you manage symptoms and side effects.
  • You can speak to our nurses or cancer support specialists in your own language, including BSL, via an interpreter. You need to request your language in English when you call.

About our information

This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan's Digital Content Editor team and checked by Macmillan's Cancer Information team.

Learn more about our Digital Content Editors and how we produce our cancer information.


How we can help

Macmillan Support Line
The Macmillan Support Line is a free and confidential phone service for people living and affected by cancer. If you need to talk, we'll listen.