Frequently Asked Questions

Consultations

Do I talk to real clinicians?

Yes. Vala members only talk to fully-qualified clinicians who reside and practice medicine in the UK. Vala services are delivered by experienced doctors, physician associates, dietitians, physiotherapists, psychotherapists, counsellors, and personal trainers. Our doctors are registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) and comply with the GMC guidelines on remote prescribing. Our Physician Associates are registered with the Royal College of Physicians Faculty of Physician Associates. Dietitians, physiotherapists, and psychotherapists are registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Counsellors are registered with the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP).

Can you treat any problem I would see my NHS GP for?

We want to be your first point of contact for any non-emergency healthcare concern.

There are many problems that we can treat from start to finish virtually (we believe that what can be treated virtually should be treated virtually–saving you time and making healthcare more convenient). Examples of conditions we frequently treat via phone, chat, or video include respiratory infections, contraception prescriptions, allergies, sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections, cold and flu symptoms, travel advice, and repeat prescriptions.

Some problems, however, may require a physical appointment with a clinician, and we’ll soon be able to help there too!

We can also help you with any general questions you may have about your health and healthcare. If you’re wondering whether something is normal, if you have questions about a medicine you’re taking, if you’d like some reassurance, or you’d like to understand a condition you already have in more detail, we can help with all of that. (Please note though that we don’t handle any emergency situations—see below).

If a problem is bothering you, schedule an appointment. We may be able to put your mind at ease, or set you on the right track towards better health.

Can you handle any emergency situations?

No. Vala is designed to handle non-emergency medical problems only. If you think that your problem is a medical emergency, you should not use our services and visit your nearest A&E department instead.

Can I use it for my children?

Yes. We are approved by the Care Quality Commissioning Group (CQC) to treat patients of all ages, including babies and children. You can add your children as dependents to your account and manage their health records in the same way as your own.

Can I use it for my elderly parents?

Absolutely. One of the strengths of Vala is that we can see patients virtually, which is ideal for anyone with mobility issues who may have difficulty leaving the house.

What if I need to see a clinician in person?

Many common medical problems can be addressed in a virtual appointment, via phone or video. It may be apparent, however, that a medical problem will require an in person assessment by a clinician (for instance, if a clinician needs to listen to your lungs in order to make a diagnosis).

At the present time, Vala is a remote-only service, so if a clinician felt that you needed to be seen in person, they would advise you to see a GP in a traditional surgery setting. However, check this space—in the future we want to offer home and office visits in order to provide a seamless GP service, wherever you are and for any problem.

What about medical investigations?

If you need further medical investigations to work towards a diagnosis, such as blood tests, we may be able to offer mail-in tests or arrange in-person tests for you at a site convenient to your location.

Radiological investigations may also be arranged remotely such as x-rays, ultrasounds, CT or MRI scans. The results will be sent to your Vala clinician who can then advise you on what to do next. The cost of arranging and interpreting any medical investigation is covered by your membership cost, however any fee charged by the laboratory is payable by the patient (however, we don’t make a profit on laboratory costs and we will endeavour to find the best value for your money). Your clinician will advise you during your consultation if you need any further investigations and agree a plan with you.

Can I speak with a specialist?

Vala is staffed by generalist clinicians. However, an appointment with a private specialist can be arranged for you if you would like. (If you would prefer, we can also write a letter to your NHS GP asking him or her to refer you to an NHS specialist.) While referral letters are included with your Vala membership and we do not charge extra for them, you would be held responsible for any fee charged by a private specialist as this is not included within your Vala membership. (Like laboratory fees, we don’t take any profit from fees paid to specialists).

How many problems can I discuss during my appointment?

Like most GP practices, we would prefer to discuss only one concern per appointment. This is because we feel that it’s in your best interest to have a full consultation dedicated to give each problem the attention it deserves. However, if you do have multiple problems or concerns, please raise them during your appointment, we’re here to help you and can always arrange an additional appointment with you if needs be.

What are your policies about treating young people under the age of 16? Does a parent need to be present?

We follow best practice guidelines as stated by the British Medical Association, which states that, “healthcare staff should not prohibit children and young people from making appointments and seeing a doctor without an accompanying adult.” This means we could consult with a young person under the age of 16 without their parent or guardian present, and we could prescribe medication, but we would only do this if we felt that the young person was capable of understanding and retaining the information we gave, and was capable of using it to make an independent decision about their health. If a young person consulted with us and we felt that they didn’t have this capacity, we would need his/her parent or guardian to be present as well. (This is a standard practice which would also apply to your NHS GP practice).

As a child’s parent or guardian, you may also nominate other people who could attend appointments with your child on your behalf (such as a nanny or grandparent).

If you have any questions or concerns about these policies, please get in touch with us.

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