Paed, GP or clinic sister?
We explain when it is the right time to see your doctor, specialist or clinic sister.

Sometimes as parents we find ourselves confused about who to take our children to for common ailments and health worries. The fact is, it all depends on what you decide and sometimes, if not all the time, on your financial status.

There are those cases where you might need the services of a specialist, but for your child’s day-to-day health and routine check-ups you can choose to go to your clinic sister, peadiatrician or general practitioner (GP).

For example, the Well Baby Check-Up Schedule (at 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year, 18 months, 2 years and then annually until a child is 5) is the same whether you go to the clinic or to the paediatrician.

The same applies with the vaccination schedule – you can take your baby to a clinic to be vaccinated, which is free, or you can take her to the peadiatrician if you so wish.

Taking your baby to a clinic sister

In South African we have a health care system that offers a lot to mothers and their young children. This system is called Primary Health Care and it is free. Every clinic sister is required to go through the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) course.

What this means is that they are better equipped to care for babies and young children’s healthcare needs. Every clinic is also required to have a sister who specialises in peadiatrics, which means that they are able to help you if your child has symptoms of delayed development issues, neurological, emotional and physical complications.

They will also be able to refer you to a peadiatrician if they deem it necessary. Going regularly and establishing good relations with your clinic sister, peadiatrician and GP will ensure you and your child’s healthcare needs are taken care of. This will also help your keep a good health record for your child, which is bene­ficial to you in the long run.

Going to the GP

You can take your child to the GP as a ­ first point of contact with a health practitioner if you wish to do so when your baby is sick, or you can be referred to a GP by a clinic sister if they think he can better address your child’s symptoms.

However, a clinic sister is most likely to refer you to a peadiatrician if there is something they can’t help you with. This is because each clinic has sister who specialises in childhood illnesses, unlike your GP.

When to see the paed

If your child was born prematurely, has developmental delays, or emotional and neurological problems, your peadiatrician is the one you have to see. A paediatrician is a specialist in childhood illness and your clinic sister will be more likely to refer you to him if she cannot help you.

For all of your healthcare needs there is someone who will be your ­ rst point of contact and that healthcare professional with assess your situation and then refer to the relevant medical professional or specialist who can address the issue best, or they will advise you to get a second opinion if you are not satisfi­ed.

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