When I call, who will I speak to?
You will be connected to one of our friendly team of Doctors or Counsellors.
Where is the service based?
The service is based in the United Kingdom. All of our Doctors are fully registered with the General Medical Council, the governing body for UK doctors, and all abide by their code of conduct. Similarly, all of our Counsellors are members of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy and abide by their code of conduct, so you can be sure whichever service you ring, you will be talking to a professional.
Are all the doctors fully qualified?
Yes, and more importantly, they will all have had at least 4 years experience of treating patients before they are eligible to work on our lines.
How about the Counsellors?
All of our Counsellors are fully qualified counsellors, who hold higher diplomas in counselling and are members of BACP. All are experienced counsellors, and over 90% are also accredited with the BACP. For more information on accreditation, please visit www.bacp.co.uk .
What are the Doctor's qualifications?
All of our doctors will have spent at least 5 years at Medical School. Many spend 6 years to gain an extra qualification. After a further year as a junior doctor, they spend a further 3 years in order to qualify as a General Practitioner. Alternatively, they choose a hospital speciality, and sit the exams to become a member of that speciality. This process takes a minimum of 2 further years, usually 3. All of our Doctors have achieved at least one of these two goals. Many have been General Practitioners or Specialists for over 10 years. All have a great deal of experience to help answer your questions.
How do you choose your Doctors and Counsellors?
We take great care to make sure you are talking to friendly, experienced professionals.
It would be very easy to allow any of the people that apply, to join our service.
Instead, we spend a lot of time making sure we individually interview each candidate and check their original qualifications. We also ensure that they are the friendly type of person that you would like to hear on the end of your phone. Additionally we insist that all our experts have undergone an Enhanced Criminal Record Bureau check, to further reassure users of the service. All are trained professionals, who will keep what you tell them in strict confidence, as they are required to by their professional membership.
What's the difference between Talk to a Counsellor and a charity helpline
All the operators at Talk to a Counsellor are fully qualified professional counsellors, the same is not always true when ringing a charity. Most charity helpline workers are volunteers who have undergone a variable amount of training. Many hope to qualify as a counsellor in the future, and are building up counselling experience.
What's the difference between Talk to a Doctor and NHS Direct?
Our service is the only service in the UK, and as far as we know, the world that allows anyone to connect directly with a fully qualified doctor. There are no receptionists, nurses or secretaries, just you and the doctor. NHS Direct has been instrumental, since it's inception, in publicising the fact that many medical conditions can be successfully managed with phone advice. However, due to funding restrictions, calls to NHS direct are taken first by call handlers, with no medical qualification, and then passed onto nurses reading off a computer screen algorithm.
Our team of doctors have a wealth of experience to draw from, and are used to making important decisions about people's health on a daily basis.
How much does it cost?
Calls cost £1.50 per minute. Calls last a maximum of 20 minutes.
Why only 20 minutes?
The telephone watchdog, PhonePay Plus (formerly ICSTIS), ensures that no single call charge is over £30 for information services. This is to ensure that callers are aware of the charges they are accumulating. We agree entirely with this, and abide by the PhonePay Plus requirements and regulations. With our £1.50 per minute call charge, this equates to a 20 minute call length.
Why are all calls recorded?
This is to protect you and the experts.
Who might listen to the calls?
Only one of 4 supervisor level Doctors and Counsellors within our service can listen to the samples of calls for quality control purposes.
Do I have to give my name?
How does the price of a call compare with the face to face counselling sessions or private doctor consulations?
A typical 50 minute counselling session would cost between £35 and £50 per session. Many face to face counsellors will have had experience of clients ringing in tears wanting to talk to them, but being forced to delay adressing the upsetting issue till a paid-for time slot can be arranged. We believe that it is much more useful to have the counselling session at the time of crisis, when it is needed, even if it is for a shorter period of time.
Additionally, certain conditions will preclude the sufferer from seeking a face to face counselling session. Conditions such as agoraphobia, and low self esteem problems are just two examples. Telephone counselling can offer an excellent bridge to people with these conditions.
Private Doctors consultations vary from £90 - £500 per hour.
The difference with Talk to a Doctor is that you can talk for as long as you like. So a quick chat about antibiotics may take just 5 minutes, and work out much cheaper than a trip down to the doctor, let alone the cost if you have to take time off work to get there.
What are the advantages of a telephone service?
It's easy to feel intimidated by the surroundings when entering a hospital, a GP surgery, or an unfamiliar counselling room. Doctors recognise this and average readings for blood pressure, knowing that the stress of coming to see the doctor alone can artificially raise the blood pressure recorded.
The best aspect of both services is that you can talk from an environment where you feel comfortable.
What are the disadvantages of a telephone service?
Both and advantage and a disadvantage of a telephone service it that our experts can't see you. Using our online service you can send a digital photo to one of our doctors to look at. However, no matter how advanced technology gets, there are certain conditions that have to be examined in person by a doctor. In the counselling world, the same applies with conditions that require regular face to face sessions. These conditions include substance abuse counselling and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Our service recognises this and is keen to refer people on when identified to the appropriate face to face services. We have organised lists for our experts to help you find the right face to face services if needed.
I really like the sound of your service. I live in the United States, why can't I use it?
Unfortunately the professional indemnity limits of our Doctors and Counsellors prevents us from providing information to residents of USA and Canada.
Can I speak with the doctors and counsellors live online?
Yes. Please visit out site for live online consultations, www.talktouslive.co.uk