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How to handle GPs?

gillianfowler Member Posts: 3 Listener
Hello, herniated discs and scoliosis and arthritis in the lumbar spine and lower thoracic area run in the female line of my family. Both of my elder sisters have had operations in their later years, the most recent on30th July 20.

What I don't understand is why don't family doctors and subsequent 'experts' do an xray or organise an MRI scan straight away instead if pills, creams physio pain management.

Surely it would be better to see what's wrong immediately.  A bit like going to a dentist when you have a bad tooth to be told go away, take aspirin and come back when it needs taking out.

My sister even organised a private scan to be told she had to have 'permission' from her GP who told her that just doing the lower part of her spine wasn't worth it, so believing her GP, she cancelled.

How can we go in at the start with our GP and get the MRI, xray etc (paying privately)  Do we have to demand things to be attended to sooner rather than later.
I have all the symptoms arriving that they experienced.  I am 68, and the sisters 77 and 70 when they managed to be seen by a surgeon.

Thank you and hope someone can advise me how to best handle GP's.


  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 15,260 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi and welcome to the community glad you have joined us.

    May be worth a complaint to the practice manager explaining like you have done here and that all you require is a referral from the GP and you are willing to pay the cost

    Or maybe find a private consultant  
  • steve51
    steve51 Member Posts: 7,154 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @gillianfowler

    Good Afternoon it’s great to meet you today.

    I am one of the Community Champion’s here at Scope.

    Yes I had big problems with my original gp in 2005.

    Following my Stroke in 1998 at 32ys old my health nosedived big time.

    The original Stroke in 1998 effected my left hand side.

    Following Radio-surgery in 2002 I now have Chronic Pain down my right side.

    “So I don’t have a good side anymore” 

    I had to go to numerous hospitals around the country to see a large amount of Consultants,Drs, but still no “Good” 

    Please come back I at any time!!!!!!!


  • leeCal
    leeCal Member Posts: 5,263 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @gillianfowler I just wanted to welcome you to the online community and I hope that you can find a way to resolve your problem.

    “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

    ― Dalai Lama XIV
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 12,270 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @gillianfowler - & welcome to the community. I'm sorry to read about your difficulties, as I also have been there, & went down the private route to see an orthopaedic surgeon, & (much) later a geneticist.
    It shouldn't be like this, but your GP is certainly your first port of call. Even if you've seen a specialist, you have a right to a second opinion. Diplomacy, however is key. Engage your GP by describing your concerns, & that you would like them to refer you to see a specialist privately.
    If you are able to do some homework, & can find the name of a specialist you would like to be referred to, this 'may' help, & will depend on the symptoms you feel are most prevalent in your case. Your sisters signs & symptoms might be thought by your GP to be coincidental, so build the case for the problems you're currently facing.
    Offering to go privately shouldn't be an issue, but many GPs probably go down the route of what they feel is often appropriate (& available) on the NHS first.
    The first GP I asked for a private referral made me feel most uncomfortable, & I actually said, if you don't feel it appropriate don't do one. He agreed, & altho this didn't help, as I asked to see a specialist in the 'wrong' field, I did eventually get there. Like Steve, I've seen many specialists (& educated some), but unfortunately we have to go with the system.
    Hoping all goes well, & kindly let us know. Also feel free to chat here any time. :)
  • gillianfowler
    gillianfowler Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Thank you so much, janer1967, steve51, leecal and in particular chiarieds.
    I had big problems 2019 fighting to get help for my sister with her lumbar disorder and managed to get her to give me permission to represent her with her GP.  She had been in severe pain for over 3 years and followed GP's advice, painkillers etc

    We come from the age group where we thought gp's, police, politicians knew what they were doing!  So trust very much entered our thoughts and no arguments.

    I managed to see a doctor in her practice to try to get things moving, to be told that I should have more humility in my dealings.  I did explain I was a retired body therapist and masseuse and knew quite a bit already.  I will be putting in a complaint but only when my sister has fully recovered from her operation which she had on 30th July. 

    She has a long way to go getting off morphine and a drug  for epilepsy which she is now addicted to after 6months of increasing doses.

    I have all this to look forward to if I am going that way.

    Would anyone suggest paying a private medical insurance such as BUPA before I develop more serious symptoms and can anyone suggest such an insurance company or where to look for reliable cover.  I am completely in the dark about such things.

    I am so pleased to have made contact with the Scope forum and I thank you all for being there

  • steve51
    steve51 Member Posts: 7,154 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @gillianfowler

    Good Morning I do hope that you are having a good start to the day??????

    Yes I have looked all over the place for help over the past few years.

    Private/NHS/Hospital’s/Consultant ‘s.
    I have gone from Birmingham,

    The private consultant’s where the same dc’s who were working
    within the NHS.

    How are you doing this afternoon???


  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 12,270 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @gillianfowler - It's a long time now since any in our family used private healthcare (we used Cigna, who were excellent, & have also paid for surgery at a Nuffield Hospital). I was however advised by Cigna that once I got a genetic diagnosis, any subsequent illness/problems would be put down to this, so wouldn't be covered.
    I've just been trying to find more info for you. It seems that as far as such insurance goes, many exclude existing/chronic problems. I did find that Bupa do a 'pay as you go' scheme as well. Please see:                                                                        Other providers here:    See also:
    So there are options open to you, but it may depend on hospital location & you still need to do some homework!
    You have my every sympathy, as I have generalised osteoarthrosis due to having the hypermobile type of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) + neurological issues due to Chiari 1 Malformation, which can be associated in a few with EDS. As a (long) retired physiotherapist, I also knew 'a bit already,' fact I worked out our family's problems through researching, then had to find a specialist to 'confirm' my diagnosis. However, the most help I got was from a New York neurosurgeon who was just beginning to find some of his Chiari patients also had Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome at the same time I became convinced that EDS must, in our case, be associated with Chiari 1 Malformation too.
    It's difficult when you may know more than any Dr you come across, & sometimes I didn't know whether to say I was a physio, or not. If I didn't, when they were 'talking down' to me, I often let slip a medical terminology, then I was asked if I was a Dr. To save embarrassment, & as a professional courtesy, I have said I was a physio straightaway for a long time. However, there is still that matter of diplomacy to get what you need, i.e. a private referral in your case; you need to win your GP over in my personal opinion. State your signs & symptoms; listen to what they say, & merely then ask for a private referral as you would like things looking into.

  • Topkitten
    Topkitten Member Posts: 1,285 Pioneering

    The problem with X-rays is that there isn't a real way to get transport help for GP referrals to get there and MRI's are very expensive. I have discussed this with GP's who always say they have no access to MRI scans but this is refuted by hospital doctors, who say they can. I suspect that the access and equipment to see MRI's is very expensive and, for most cases, not really necessary. Not even GP surgeries will pay for proper equipment and training for a minority of cases.

    I have been told by my GP that access wouldn't help and, in my case, that's probably true as my case is so unique there is no training or treatment for it. I have 1 fused cervical disk to fix a rupture and now the disks either side have also ruptured causing many issues and these show up on an x-ray but the main reason my mobility is affected is that I have between 10 and 12 collapsing disks (all the Lumbar and part of the lower Thoracic) and it's progressive and accelerating. Even the hospital doesn't bother with MRI's any more ( over 3 years nearly 4 since the last one) as the number is irrelevant to them, they are only interested, when they bother at all, in the effect it causes.

    In general GP's don't have the training or experience to deal with severe issue, especially invisible ones. With sufficient time put in they can be quite helpful but most GP's can't and won't put the extra effort in to deal with such difficult cases, they just want to dump the problem onto someone else by multiple referrals.

    Hope you get better treatment than I have.

    "I'm on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell" - from Wrong side of heaven by Five Finger Death Punch.
  • gillianfowler
    gillianfowler Member Posts: 3 Listener
    Thank you steve51, chiareds and topkitten.
    You've confirmed that GP's just want to get you done and off their day's list and/or pass you along.

    Thank you in particular for the info on private cover.  As yet I haven't visited any doctor regarding any twinges I may experience, I deal with the spasms with my TENS machine and realinement stretches.
    Having had very little dealings with Drs in my life..maybe a checkup once a year...I haven't learnt how best to get their attention and cooperation.  All my recent frustrations with them have been on behalf of my sister to get her back fixed.

    I will study some psychology as how best to approach doctors.  I know they are overstretched and some are having meltdowns.  I have learnt the hard way but it all stands me in good stead.

    It's so good to be able to read advice and experiences from others.  Thank you.


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