Psychiatric illness is particularly difficult to deal with ‘out of hours’ as it is likely that the doctor on duty will have no knowledge of the patient, nor access to their records.


For this reason, it is better, if at all possible, to wait until surgery hours and consult the patient’s own doctor.  It is possible that the patient may have a key worker who you can contact in an emergency.


Organisations such as the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day should you simply need someone to talk to.

If there is a threat of violence, it is perfectly appropriate to ask for help from the police.


Contact the doctor when the surgery is open if:

  • at all possible

Contact the doctor straight away if:

  • there is a real risk of self harm or of harm to others.