Finding a GP

Your local general practitioner (GP or family doctor) plays a very important role in your family’s healthcare. They are usually the first health professional to see if you have any concerns about your child’s health.

For children with complex needs, it is particularly important to develop a long-term relationship with a GP you feel comfortable with and who you can talk to openly and honestly.

Your GP is an expert in you as an individual. Your specialist is an expert in your condition. By working together, they can help your child achieve the best possible healthcare.

Why does my child need a GP?

GPs provide continuing, comprehensive care for children, adolescents and families in their local communities. Their services include:

  • immunisation
  • monitoring your child’s health and development
  • treatment of accidents and minor injuries
  • working closely with specialists, as needed, to help manage and coordinate your child’s care
  • prescribing medicines and ordering health screening and medical tests, such as blood tests and x-rays
  • adolescent health (for teenagers), including contraception, mental and sexual health
  • coordinating access to Medicare funding, e.g. Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) for allied health treatment such as speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy for children with diagnosed long-term medical or developmental conditions, as well as mental health plans for access to psychology and behavioural treatment
  • providing continuity over time, especially when transitioning from hospital to community-based care or from paediatric services to adult services.

When should my child see their GP?

GPs are usually the first point of contact for someone of any age who feels sick or has a health (physical or mental health) concern. It is also recommended that you see your GP within:

  • a week after an emergency department visit, unless told to sooner
  • a week of an inpatient stay, unless told to sooner
  • one month after an outpatient department visit, unless told to sooner

Because your GP has a central role in your child’s healthcare, the Queensland Children’s Hospital will usually refer patients back to the care of their GP after discharge from hospital or from outpatients. You can ask your hospital specialist to make sure this happens.

You can find a GP near you by:

  • Asking friends or family members who they recommend. If you are looking for a GP who speaks a certain language or who understands your culture, ask people in your community about who they recommend.
  • Asking your child health nurse.
  • Searching online using
    – the Healthdirect Service Finder
    – Google or other search engines
  • Calling 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

Don’t be afraid to try different GPs until you find one who feels right for your family. You can also phone GP practices and ask if they are good with children and/or if they bulk-bill children.

Some GP practices also offer after hours services. Be sure to ask them about how to access care if your child is sick or injured after hours.

Remember, if you are seeing a GP for the first time or if you have a lot of things to talk to them about, you can ask for a longer appointment.

Once you have found a GP who feels right for your family, it is important to try and attend the same GP or clinic, even if it is a different problem. This way your GP can help address your child’s health as a whole.

If you are from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background, you may wish to access a local Aboriginal Medical Service.

Accessing your GP during the COVID-19 pandemic

To ensure families can continue to access their GP during the COVID-19 pandemic, many clinics have reduced face-to-face appointments and are providing patient consultations via Telehealth. Check with your GP if you and your child can have a consultation via Telehealth. New Medicare rules mean that the appointment should be bulk-billed, leaving you with no out-of-pocket costs.

GP access to ‘The Viewer’

Queensland General Practitioners (GPs) will have online access to patient information through Queensland Health’s read-only application, ‘The Viewer’, by mid-2017.  Patients will be able to ‘opt out’ of having their information visible to Queensland GPs by calling 13HEALTH (13 432 584).  Find out more about this initiative.