A GP has overall responsibility for the healthcare of ill people being looked after at home. They can:
- prescribe drugs
- organise nursing help if needed - for example, visits from a district or specialist palliative care nurse, physiotherapist or occupational therapist (OT)
- arrange for the person you’re caring for to go into hospital, hospice or nursing home. This may be so you can have a break from your caring responsibilities. This is known as respite care.
If the person you are caring for has moved to your home from another area since they became ill, you will need to register them with a local surgery. Let their previous GP know what has happened and register at the new surgery. You will need the name and address of their previous GP and, if possible, their NHS medical card.
Contact the GP if you are worried about something. It may be that the person you are caring for has new or worsening symptoms or there is a sudden change in their condition. The GP may arrange to make a home visit, give you advice on the phone or suggest a visit to the surgery. You should also let the GP know that you’re a carer. They may be able to signpost you to local support services.
GP surgeries must provide a 24-hour service. If you call for a doctor after the surgery has closed or at weekends, you’re likely to be put through to an out-of-hours doctor.
In Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, people with cancer can get free prescriptions. If you live in England, prescriptions are also free but your friend or relative needs to apply for a prescription exemption certificate. You can ask for an application form (FP92A) at their GP surgery or at the hospital.