Cervical Screening (Smear Test) – How It Works

Cervical screening, often known as a smear test or cervical screening test, is an essential part of any woman’s healthcare, and it’s an important measure that can help protect women and prevent cervical cancer. In the UK, women are recommended to undergo regular PAP testing at age 25 and older as part of their routine healthcare regime of regular testing and GP appointments. 

The procedure involves the use of a smooth tube-shaped tool, a speculum, which, although it might look unpleasant and even frightening, is designed especially to be as painless as possible. By following the instructions your GP or nurse gives you, the cervical screening, a small procedure, will be over in a matter of seconds for most people. 

The Right Position 

In order for the test to be carried out, you’ll need to lie down on an exam table with your legs bent, feet together. Put the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall to each side, and your doctor or nurse will be able to perform the test more easily. 

Once you’re in position, the healthcare professional will put the speculum into your vagina using a small amount of lubricant – this is done to carefully push the vaginal walls to the side so that the doctor or nurse can get to the cervix, which is what they need to take cells from. When they gently put a smooth tube inside, it makes access much easier. 

Taking The Sample 

The cervical screening (smear test) is designed so that cells can be taken from the cervix and sent off for testing to determine whether or not there are abnormalities in the cells (which might indicate cervical cancer). 

Once the speculum is in place, a soft brush or spatula is used to gently put a sample of cells from your cervix into a sample collection tube; this is a crucial step because the cells will be sent off to a lab for testing to see if there are any signs of cervical cancer or the human papillomavirus (HPV) which can lead to cervical cancer. 

Abnormal Cells 

Finding out if you have any abnormal cells isn’t something to put off or ignore – knowing is far better than not knowing, even if it’s a frightening prospect because treatment can be started if something is found, making it much more likely that you’ll have a positive outcome. 

As mentioned above, high-risk HPV strains are known to be a major cause of cervical cancer, which is why regular screenings are so vital for women, especially any who might be at high risk of developing the condition because of their age, sexual activity, or family history. 

After The Test

Once your expert NHS GP has taken the small sample of cells they need for the PAP test, the speculum is gently removed, and the doctor will leave you to get dressed

The collected sample from the cervical screening, a smear, will be labelled and then sent off to a lab for cervical screening a small sample, where experts can see if the cells have any signs of infection or any abnormalities. 

Get In Touch Today

If you feel you want to have cervical cancer screening tests for your peace of mind or because you’re concerned about your health, please don’t hesitate to contact us to book your appointment. Our experts are on hand to ensure your health is taken seriously. 

Do you want to request a referral from your GP

Whether you want a specific treatment or require further testing, you are entitled to ask your GP for a referral to the NHS.

That being said, they may suggest that you try certain treatments or undergo certain tests before they refer you to see if your condition improves.

If you would like to find out more about the GP referral process, then the blog below will tell you everything you need to know.  

What is the GP Referral Process? 

Firstly, you need to make an appointment with your NHS GP. This can be done either online or by contacting your local practice directly. Once you are at your appointment, you should explain to them why you think you need to see a specialist. As mentioned briefly above, they may suggest other tests or treatment before they refer you. 

If your GP thinks that you need to see a specialist, require an outpatient appointment, or would benefit from mental health support, then they will write you a referral letter. This is included on the NHS England, which means you will not be charged for this service. 

How Long Do GP Referrals Take?

It is worth noting that once you are referred by your GP, it can take quite a long time before your appointment request is dealt with, as there is normally a waiting list. The exact length of time will be dependent on what type of treatment or testing you require, although the current average for waiting times is around 14 weeks. 

That being said, under the NHS Constitution, if you are referred for a non-urgent medical issue, you have the right to start treatment within 18 weeks from the date of your referral. 

Can a GP Referral be Rejected?

Yes, your GP can decide not to refer you if they do not think that you need to see a specialist. That being said, if you are rejected, you can ask for a second opinion from another healthcare professional. This ensures patients are getting the help that they need. 

Do I Need a GP Referral for Private Treatment?

No, you do not. If you want to pay for private health treatment, then you can get in touch with your preferred specialist without needing to involve your GP. However, if you have private medical insurance, you may be required to obtain a referral letter

It is also recommended that you ask your GP for the referral, as then they will be able to pass details of your medical history to your private healthcare provider. 

What is the NHS E-referral service?

The NHS e-referral service (e-RS) is an electronic advice and support tool that is designed to make it easier for GPs to manage patient referrals. More specifically, it enables clinicians and patients to book appointments with the healthcare provider of their choice. 

If you have an NHS log-in, you can receive your first outpatient appointment request information via email instead of a letter. It also acts as a directory for healthcare services, such as names of clinicians, treatments available, and conditions treated. 

If you would like more information about GP referrals or any other aspect of the NHS service, please Contact Us here today. 

Convenience is something we all want more of in life. After all, the more convenient life is, the easier it is to enjoy it, to have a good work-life balance, to take care of our finances and family, and, of course, to ensure we have good health. That’s why making more convenient is one of our core values.

In this article, we discuss a key aspect of that – whether or not you can get a prescription without seeing a doctor. Read on to find out more!


The Traditional Route

The NHS is the backbone of the UK’s healthcare system, and for many years, it’s worked in much the same way. If you want to get a prescription for any health condition you might have, you need to make an appointment with your GP, wait in the waiting room, then finally get into the consulting room for a face-to-face consultation. 

That’s not always convenient, especially if you work, have mobility issues, or have other appointments to schedule. 

What About A Repeat Prescription? 

For those with chronic health issues, repeat prescriptions are the norm. A repeat prescription means refilling the prescription every time the patient is nearing the end of the medication they were given last time, and it’s a necessary part of many people’s healthcare. 

This kind of prescription service is a drawn-out procedure, where patients have to visit the doctor for a checkup and then go to their local pharmacy to pick up the medication. That’s not ideal, especially for those with limited time or mobility issues. 


Online Healthcare Services 

So, can you get a prescription without seeing a doctor? It would be easier for those who need a repeat prescription – after all, they already know what medication they need and how much to take. 

The answer is yes. If you need a repeat prescription, there’s no need to see a doctor face-to-face. Instead, you can make an appointment with an online doctor at NHS GP and quickly and easily refill your medication. Online healthcare services are all about convenience, and they make an ideal alternative to the traditional in-person routine that was the only choice just a few years ago. 

Online platforms connect patients with licensed healthcare professionals who can assess their medical needs through virtual consultations and instantly approve a repeat prescription online. There’s no waiting around; you can do it when it suits you, and you can rest assured you’re connecting with qualified doctors. 


Working With Local Pharmacies 

Something that’s a positive for many people is the fact that many online healthcare services collaborate with local pharmacies to make the prescription fulfilment process much easier. Once a prescription is approved, patients can pick up the medication from the local pharmacy of their choice. 


Get In Touch Today

Contact us today to find out more about our online doctor services and our online consultations, whether you have specific health concerns, need a general checkup, or want to refill a repeat prescription. We’re here to help in any way we can. 

Are you waiting for your prescription to be ready?

Whether you are unwell or you live with a long term condition that requires medication, it can feel like a long wait to collect your prescription, especially if you don’t know when it is due to be ready. 

Discover how to find out when your prescription orders are ready to be collected and how long they typically take. Plus, how to use the NHS app to track your repeat prescriptions.


When Will I Know When My Prescription is Ready to Collect?


You can contact your GP surgery at any time to find out when your prescription is ready to collect. If you have a nominated pharmacy, you can also call them or drop in if you live nearby. If you are picking up your prescription from your local pharmacy, make sure that you take your ID with you, as they may request this. 

You can also check the status of your prescription on the NHS app, which is free to use and available for everyone. 


How Long Does It Take for an NHS Prescription to be Ready?


Typically, it takes up to 48 hours for an NHS prescription to be ready to be collected, but this can vary from one practice to another. If you have ordered a repeat prescription via the NHS app or through your NHS GP, then allow 2-3 working days for it to be sent to the pharmacy of your choice

If you need your NHS prescription urgently, you can ask them to fast-track your order. 


Will I Get a Text When My Prescription is Ready to be Collected? 


Many UK pharmacies offer a text message service for prescriptions; for instance, Boots and Lloyds Pharmacy do, as well as some independent pharmacies. If you would like to receive a text from your pharmacy when your prescription is ready to be collected, all you need to do is opt into this service. 


How Do I Check the Status of My Prescription on the NHS App?


To check the status of your prescription or repeat prescription on the NHS app, you need to log in to your account and then head to the “Prescriptions” page. Here, you will be able to view your current orders and see if your prescription is ready to collect. 

There are three possible statuses:

    • Waiting for GP approval 
    • Approved by your GP and issued
    • Rejected or refused 


How Do I Know When My Repeat Prescription is Ready to be Collected?

Ordering repeat prescriptions and waiting for them to be ready to be collected is the same process as standard prescriptions. You can ring your GP surgery to see if your repeat prescription has been issued, or you can contact your pharmacy directly. 

You can also check to see if your repeat prescription is ready to be collected by logging into your account on the NHS app. 

You can contact us for more information on collecting your prescriptions or any other aspect of the NHS.

Can Your GP Admit You to Hospital?


Are you planning to go to hospital? While it’s not something that anyone looks forward to, it is sometimes a necessity. Yet, if you have never been through the process of a hospital admission before, or it has been a while since you last spent time in a hospital, you might be wondering how the process works. This includes wondering if your GP is able to admit you into the hospital. Let’s answer that question for you.


Can your GP admit you to hospital


In short, yes, your GP is able to admit you to hospital. In fact, GP approval is often recommended if you are planning a stay in hospital. Whether it is from the doctor at your GP surgery, even if you use a service like NHS GP or another health specialist, they can arrange your hospital stay. That includes booking your appointment and getting an admission letter sent your way. 

This admission letter is important for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it supplies you with specific instructions to follow – including the date and time, details about what department to visit, and information about how to prepare for your stay – that helps to clear up any possible confusion. 

However, GP approval or consultation is unnecessary for hospital admission. There are certain situations where this is bypassed entirely.  


Being admitted to hospital without GP approval


A consultant-led hospital admission is arguably the most beneficial. This helps to reduce waiting time as you have a scheduled time and date for your hospital visit. Yet sometimes, it’s not possible to have the luxury of forward planning. 

For example, you may be unable to go to the GP beforehand if you are suffering from an emergency health predicament. If you suddenly become unwell, an ambulance could be called to take you directly to the hospital for treatment. 

Sometimes assistance isn’t required. You might decide to admit yourself to a hospital if you feel ill or are seriously injured. This is typically the case if you feel it’s an issue that cannot wait and requires urgent attention from a medical professional. 

Another scenario is if a person is admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act. Understandably, when this action is taken, it doesn’t require GP approval beforehand.


Preparing for your hospital visit


Depending on whether you have completed a pre-admission assessment, or if certain details are provided in your admission letter, specific advice such as not eating over a specific period, may have to be followed. There are other tips to keep in mind. This includes bringing some money to purchase snacks or drinks and any personal details changes – like a new GP, for instance. 

Once you have arrived, you will have to meet with hospital staff and complete an admission form. This includes supplying  your personal details and those of your emergency contact.

If you need any further clarification, feel free to contact us. We will be able to answer any questions you might have about hospital admissions, the role a GP can play, and more. 

Do Hospitals Have Access to GP Records?


Some people don’t like their medical records being shared. They contain personal details including information about their physical or mental health, and they may like the thought of this being accessed by other people. If this describes you, then you might be wondering if your GP records are accessible to other healthcare professionals.


Do hospitals have access to GP records


If you are concerned that hospitals and other healthcare professionals can access your GP medical record, there’s no need to worry. These health records are not available for others to view. 

Of course, medical professionals may need to know key information pertaining to your health. This is available to them through a “summary care record”. This care record, produced by your GP practice automatically from the start of your first visit, gives a brief overview of key health details. This can assist a hospital with administering the right care and medicine if you’re admitted.


What data is recorded as part of a GP record? 


You might be curious about what your GP record includes. This record covers details such as your test results, vaccines, and medicines. Furthermore, it will cover communications from your GP between other services. This can include hospital discharge summaries and referral letters.


Accessing your GP records 


If you would like to take a look at your GP records, it is possible to view a summary of this online through the official NHS app. This NHS digital approach is the easiest way to gain access, although there are other methods available. 

One is to ask your GP directly. This can be done in person, over the phone, or via a video consultation if you are with NHS GP. You will need to request information about which your GP uses an online service provider. Note that this information could be available on the website of your GP surgery. Then it’s a case of telling them you would like to sign up for their online services, completing the registration, and gaining access to your details. 

You can also, in writing, formally request these medical records. This might be your option if you don’t want to use online services and want physical copies of your records.  

Regardless of which option you choose, General Data Protection Regulation ensures you don’t have to pay a penny to access your medical records.


GP records for someone that’s deceased. 


What if you’re not accessing your own GP records, but those recorded for someone who has died? NHS England passes the records for the deceased to Primary Care Support England (PCSE).

If you are allowed to access these files – say you are the deceased’s executor of their estate – you will have to first get in touch with the deceased’s last registered GP. They will be able to help with gaining approved requests from the PCSE for records of the deceased. 

If you would like any further information about GP records, who has access to them, and more, feel free to contact us

How to get a repeat prescription


Need a repeat prescription but are not sure how to get one? Find out everything there is to know about how and where to get a repeat prescription in the UK. Plus, discover what to do if you lose your repeat prescription. 


How to get a repeat prescription without going to the doctor


You can get a repeat prescription without going to the doctor. There are several ways that you can request a repeat prescription without having to go to your GP surgery in person, including: 

  • Order via the NHS app 

One of the simplest ways to request repeat medications is via the NHS app or the NHS website. If you do not have an NHS account, you can easily create one via the website. 

If you are asked to nominate a pharmacy, you must choose a high street one. Select continue on this, and it should process the order. When ready, you can collect your prescription in person, or some pharmacies may offer a delivery service. 

  • Order via other online services 

If you do not want to use the NHS app, there are other online services and apps that you can use to place your repeat prescription orders. These services can be linked to your NHS GP so that any repeat prescriptions will be automatically highlighted on your account and so that they can check your GP medical record

It is worth noting that some of these services are free of charge, whereas others will charge to deliver your medication directly to your door. 


Can a chemist give you a repeat prescription? 


Yes, you can get a repeat prescription directly from a chemist. As long as the medication in question has already been approved by a doctor, you can simply choose a pharmacy and collect your medication as and when you need it. 

Depending on the medication you take, you may be required to go to your doctor’s office for check-ups to see how you are responding to the treatment and to check that it is not interfering with any other medication you are taking. If you are taking the oral contraceptive pill, you will need to give a blood pressure reading once every 6 months. 


How long does it take to get a repeat prescription?


It usually takes around 2 working days for a repeat prescription request to be processed by your GP surgery, as each prescription needs to be approved by a doctor. Once a prescription has been authorised, it is then sent to the pharmacy to be dispensed. Depending on whether or not they have the medication in stock, this can take between 2-5 days. 

If you require a repeat prescription urgently, visit our contact us page, so our team can help you through the process. We may be able to fast-track the process.


Are repeat prescriptions free? 


If you are entitled to free prescriptions, then you do not have to pay for a repeat prescription. In the UK, contraceptives such as birth control pills are free of charge on the NHS to people of all ages. 

If you are not entitled to free prescriptions, then you will have to pay the £9.65 prescription charge. However, if you require frequent prescriptions regularly, it may work out cheaper for you to purchase a prescription payment certificate (PPC). 


What do I do if I lose my repeat prescription? 


As most GP surgeries now issue electronic prescriptions, you do not need to worry about your repeat prescription getting lost. However, if you have been issued paper prescriptions from your GP and they become lost, your local surgery should be able to print you out a new copy. 

Face-to-Face GP Appointments 


Do you struggle to get face-to-face appointments with your GP? Since the COVID-19 pandemic, which made online GP appointments much more commonplace, many people have expressed their concern about not being able to see a doctor in person. 

In fact, last year, figures showed that only two-thirds of GP appointments are carried out in person, compared to an estimated 80% before the pandemic.

Find out the latest laws and guidelines relating to face-to-face GP appointments below and make sure you are getting the care you are entitled to. 


Why is it so difficult to get a face-to-face GP appointment?


Although the initial switch to remote consulting was predominantly to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to ensure patients are safe, this is not the main reason why GP practices are continuing to offer remote consulting. 

A combination of huge volumes of patients and limited daily appointment slots has made it almost impossible for surgeries to accommodate face-to-face appointments for everyone.


Do I have a right to a face-to-face appointment with my GP?


According to new NHS guidance, practices in England must offer face-to-face appointments if requested. GPs who fail to make the necessary arrangements for patients to make an appointment without having to spend hours on the phone or who are not available for face-to-face appointments are, in the strictest terms, breaking the law.  

You can find out more information about how many appointments your GP surgery is delivering and how many are face-to-face compared to how many take place remotely by accessing the GP appointment level data at practice level. This is information that has been collected for the past 5 years by NHS Digital.


What is the best way to get a GP appointment? 


Rather than spending hours on the phone trying to get through to the reception at your local GP surgery, it is much quicker and easier to use an online form. Some practices have them available on your GP surgery’s website, or you may be able to access them via the NHS app

Although there are quite a few questions to answer on these forms, this is generally a much faster way to access the GP services that you need rather than booking an appointment over the phone. These online forms are secure and confidential and can be used to contact your general practice about your own health or someone else’s – your loved ones in care homes needing health care services don’t need to add the stress of using online methods like this on top of their health conditions, so take care of this for them. If you or your loved one don’t mind having an online appointment, this is generally much quicker to get sorted, and you can easily get one with NHS GP clinics. If you need help booking an online appointment with your GP, please contact us here, and we will do our best to help you get the healthcare advice you need. 


What are the new rules for GP appointments?


A new NHS contract that came into force in April 2023 means that GP staff have to let patients book consultations in advance or refer them to other services, such as a pharmacist, rather than tell them to call back later or the next day. Practices across England will be given £240 million this year to pay for new technologies that are designed to ensure patients get given the care they need as quickly as possible. 

Currently, guidelines state that if a patient requires emergency care, they should be given an appointment on the same day. If it is not, appointments, either face-to-face or via a video call, should be offered within 2 weeks. Alternatively, patients should be referred to NHS 111 or a local pharmacy. 


What do you say when booking a GP appointment?


When booking a GP appointment, your surgery will ask you for personal details such as your name, address, and date of birth. They should also ask you about your preferred mode of appointment, such as a telephone or video call or a face-to-face appointment. They may also ask you what the appointment is for, but you are not required to give out this information if you do not want to.

Although it is possible to use NHS services without having your NHS number on hand, it can be useful to have this available in certain situations. For example, if you’re registering with a new GP practice, the process can be quicker when you know your NHS number. 

This is the situation when registering with NHS GP, though it is worth noting, that we are still able to register you with one of our NHS GP surgeries through our quick, online form. If you are able to provide us with your NHS number, it does make it easier to locate your medical record without however – and that results in registration being completed sooner. 

There’s just one issue: how do you actually find your NHS number? 

How to find your NHS number

You will have received an NHS number if you have previously registered with a GP in England. This is a ten-digit number that takes this type of form: 328 777 1236.

If you’re unable to find your NHS number, the good news is there are multiple ways to solve this problem. These methods are: 

  • The ‘Find your NHS number’ service
  • Through the NHS app
  • On prescription papers and NHS letters
  • Speak to your GP practice


‘Find your NHS number’ service

Conveniently, the NHS provides a service that allows you to gain access to your NHS number. The ‘Find your NHS number’ service involves you inputting the following information: 

  • Name 
  • Date of birth
  • Postcode

Your number will then be sent by the NHS by email, text, or letter, depending on your preference. 

It is possible to get updates about the “checking” status and if your order prescription will be changed or paused. To do this, you can contact your nominated pharmacy or GP surgery. They will then be able to tell you if it’s possible to collect your prescription as normal, or if any changes have been made.

Through the NHS app

spanIf you have the NHS app, this is another simple method to find your NHS number. This number is displayed prominently at the top of the app after logging in, below your name, for extra convenience. 

Have you not downloaded the NHS app yet and created an online account? You can start the process by visiting the following NHS app link

One of the advantages of a repeat prescription is that you can avoid booking GP appointments to simply receive your next dose of medication. This is convenient and helps to avoid potential delays in getting the medication you need. 

This aspect is boosted even more when you use NHS GP to manage your repeat prescriptions. With just a few clicks, you can put in a request for your next prescription from your GP. This is then delivered for free either to your home address or your nominated pharmacy.

On an NHS letter or document 

Is a letter or document you have received from the NHS readily available? If so, good news: this is another way to gain access to your NHS number. As for what type of documents you may have received from the NHS, this includes an appointment letter, prescriptions, test results, and hospital referral letter. 

Again, your NHS number will be displayed prominently next to your name on any of these documents. 

Speak to your GP practice

If you cannot locate these documents from the NHS, including any prescriptions papers or test results, there is a direct way to find your NHS number: speak to your GP practice. 

As long as you are registered with your GP practice and you ask them for your number, they be able to provide it to you without issue. However, for privacy reasons, you could be asked to provide them with proof of identity, such as a driving licence or passport. 

If you would like any more information about your NHS number or are struggling to locate it via the above methods, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help. 

A repeat prescription is beneficial in that you don’t have to receive continual GP approval to gain your next prescribed dose of medication. These are provided on a continual basis based on a schedule across a set period of time

Repeat prescriptions are provided when ongoing access to medication makes the most sense. This can be for a long-term issue such as high blood pressure, for example, or it could be for something like the contraceptive pill. 

While a repeat prescription is generally straightforward, there are certain aspects that can cause a little confusion. This is the case when it comes to the “checking” status that might be found on your repeat prescription. 


What does the “checking” status on my repeat prescription mean?


If you have received a repeat prescription and seen it come with a “checking” status, you might be a little worried about what this entails. This is certainly the case when that status wasn’t present on your previous medication.

However, it is not something that should carry any concern. “Checking” is simply a notice that a routine check is being made by your GP or pharmacist. This inspection is done to ensure your prescribed medication remains a suitable and safe option for your current situation. 

That doesn’t mean you should be hesitant to take the medication you have just received a prescription for. A GP wouldn’t approve a prescription if it wasn’t right for you and your particular situation, so you can rest assured that the med


Keeping track of your repeat prescriptions


It is possible to get updates about the “checking” status and if your order prescription will be changed or paused. To do this, you can contact your nominated pharmacy or GP surgery. They will then be able to tell you if it’s possible to collect your prescription as normal, or if any changes have been made.


Managing your repeat prescriptions online


One of the advantages of a repeat prescription is that you can avoid booking GP appointments to simply receive your next dose of medication. This is convenient and helps to avoid potential delays in getting the medication you need. 

This aspect is boosted even more when you use NHS GP to manage your repeat prescriptions. With just a few clicks, you can put in a request for your next prescription from your GP. This is then delivered for free either to your home address or your nominated pharmacy.

By managing your prescriptions online, it is easy to see if that “checking” status has resulted in any change to your medicine. If that change results in the repeat medication being refused, you can then use our platform to book a GP appointment online to arrange a potential new course of medicine. 

If you would like to learn more about NHS GP and how it can assist with managing your repeat prescriptions, make sure to contact us. A helpful member of staff from our practice will then get in touch and guide you along the way.