Patient Care Navigation or Signposting, as you may also hear it called, allows us to help patients get the most appropriate source of help or advice, as quickly as possible.  You may wonder why this is something new.  The significance of this is that the most appropriate help or advice may not always be provided by a doctor.

It is becoming more widely recognised that there are many other health professionals and specialists who can help with medical problems.  In addition, we have many policies and procedures within the practice and patients cannot possibly be expected to know them all.  Sometimes an appointment with a doctor is not necessary to do the things you need to do.


In order to allow us to navigate you to the most appropriate help Reception staff will ask each patient who requests an appointment with a doctor the reason they are asking for the appointment, as they currently do for nursing appointments. 


Our Reception staff have been instructed by our team of clinicians to always ask you for a brief description of your symptoms. They are gathering vital information regarding your health concern in order to ensure that you are booked in or directed to the most appropriate Health Professional to deal with your concern. Having this information enables the practice to: 

  • help doctors prioritise house visits and phone calls
  • ensure that all patients receive the appropriate level of care
  • direct patients to see the nurse or other health professional or specialist rather than a doctor, where appropriate

Please be assured that reception staff will not be providing clinical advice.  They will be asking for information and may advise you on another health professional or specialist who could help with your problem.  They may also advise on procedures at the practice.  For example, many patients do not realise that you do not need to have an appointment with a doctor in order to ask for a prescription or sick line.


All staff members are bound by strict confidentiality rules meaning that all infomation you provide will be treated confidentially.  However, should you wish more privacy you can ask to speak to a member of staff in private away from the reception desk or if you feel your issue is personal and do not wish to provide details then this will be respected.


Some of the other health professionals and specialists who can help you are detailed below:

DENTISTAny teeth, gum or mouth problems should always be seen by a Dentist.  They have specialist knowledge and equipment to assess your concern and many can prescribe.

OPTICIAN:  Any eye problems should be seen by an Optician.  They have specialist knowledge and equipment to look into the backs of your eyes, they can refer you onward to the Eye Pavilion if required and many can now prescribe.

PHARMACIST/ PHARMACY FIRST: Pharmacists are highly trained and can assess and prescribe for a vast range of minor ailments and illness including: coughs, colds, sore throats, uncomplicated urinary tract infection, diarrhoea, constipation, impetigo, eczema, thrush, nasal congestion, acne, backache, indigestion, emergency contraception, warts and verrucae, thrush, piles, hayfever, smoking cessation. Pharmacy First is available in all pharmacies across Scotland and allows patients to access advice and appropriate treatment without the need for a GP appointment. This service is free to eligible patients and there is NO need to book an appointment.

MINOR INJURIES ASSESSMENT (MIA): Minor Injuries Assessment units are open 24/7 in the following hospitals based around Edinburgh:

  • Western General Hospital (for children aged 12 and over and adults)
  • Royal Hospital for Children and Young People (for children under 12 years old)
  • Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (for children aged 16 and over and adults) 
  • St John's Hospital, A+E Department (for children and adults) 

The best way to access a minor injury assessment is by dialling NHS24 on 111 to get a scheduled appointment. In the first instance, a Nurse Practioner will assess your concern over the phone/ by video consultation and provide treatment and advice within a matter of minutes. Many minor injuries can be treated from the comfort of your home with the help of a local pharmacy. However, if you required face to face assessment, you will be given a convenient appointment time o save you waiting when you attend. 

PODIATRIST: Deal with heel and foot pain, painful nails, corns.  Please collect a self referral form from reception.

PHYSIOTHERAPIST: Deal with a vast range of muscle or joint problems. They can provide advice and suggest exercises to help you manage pain and promote recovery. They can also refer you for X-rays or refer you onward to Orthopaedics if required. 

MIDWIFE:  Midwives can help with any pregnancy related issues or questions- you can contact the Pennywell Midwife team on: 0131 286 5023.   

MENTAL HEALTHCARE TEAM:  Breathing Space are there for you to talk to or simply to provide advice and support. You can contact them directly by calling 0800 83 85 87 or visit their website:

Alternatively, the Samaritans can be contacted for free on any phone by calling 116 123 or you can visit their website:

If you have emergency concerns about your own mental health or that of a close friend/family you can contact the Mental Health Assessment Service (MHAS) and speak to a Mental Health Nurse on 0131 286 8137.

SOCIAL CARE DIRECT:  You can contact the team directly on 0131 200 2324 if you have concerns about the safety of an adult or child at risk of harm.  If you need help due to illness, frailty or disability.  If you are a carer and have concerns about the person you care for.

DRUG AND ALCOHOL TEAM:  The North Edinburgh Drug and Alcohol Centre is located at 15A Pennywell Rd, EH4 4TZ and can be contacted Monday-Friday (09:30-16:30) by calling them directly on 0131 629 4581. Alternatively, you can also contact the Crystal Health Group DNA, Drug and Alcohol Clinic (based at 4 Redheughs Rigg, South Gyle, EH12 9DQ) by calling them on 0800 988 7107 or visiting their website: 

Please see the NHS Inform Health Information section on the right for further information.

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