The kit you need as a GP – Dr Gandalf’s essential GP equipment list
It is almost August and that means a new wave of AiTs ( Associates in training – the actual name of GP trainees) will qualify as GPs. Many of these AiTs will turn to locum work to gain variety, experience and confidence as a working GP.
But what kit will they need?
Here follows a comprehensive list. If you want to see a video explanation of most of this equipment then see our detailed post on the top medical equipment for general practice or the video below or click here for the best value GP visiting kit at under £150!
First and foremost what should you carry your kit in?
There are generally two schools of thought on this:
- a hard bag
- not a hard bag
The clear benefit of a hard bag is the fact it can be used as a seat for home visits. Additionally, the more robust nature can imitate security for contents and rarely personal security. Whether hard or soft, in terms of cost this may vary from bargain basement rucksack from your local shop, to designer medical or retail bags including maternity bags.
In reality what you truly need is simply a comfortable bag to carry, with several pockets, somewhere to keep paperwork and ideally a lock on one compartment if you plan on carrying FP10 prescriptions and/or meds.
When I started locum work I got the Morgan medical bag. A large bag with multiple compartments, comfortable to carry but a bit large for just a visiting bag. Good quality, now 10 years on is still functional. A good camera bag is a viable alternative. I now use for visiting only a simple record bag with four pockets from most retailers.
Colleagues that prefer a hard case may choose items like a pilot case, make up chest or tool case from hardware stores. For a full guide see the video below or our blog post on which type of doctors bag should you sue to visit patients.
There are a fair few pieces of diagnostic equipment that are useful for you to keep. Here follows Dr Gandalf’s magical list:
- Stethoscope- Personally I still use my Littmann Classic SE although the Cardiology IV is also a firm favourite. More cost-effective options are the MDF Acoustica brand. If I had disposable funds I would consider the tech-happy Thinklabs One. For added Bluetooth to share what you hear consider the Eko.
- opthalmoscope/auroscope diagnostic set (preferably with a blue light or a separate pentorch) and associated disposables- I like my telescopic version by Welch Allyn but the basic set is just as good. The panoptic version is also very nice but I do not feel I can justify the cost. Handy also to have a cheaper set for the visit bag if keep separate
- BP measuring kit- hand sphyg (Welch Allyn for me again) or electric– with large cuff (calibrated)
- tendon hammer (though could use the head of a stethoscope)
- pulse oximeter- I have used Ana wiz for ages but for further accuracy try this.
- Braun electronic thermometer either the 6020 or the 7 series with colour indicator. and extra caps. Alternately consider a no-touch version like the BNT400.
- glucometer and paraphernalia
- tape measure
- spare torch
- sample bottles- urine, stool, sputum
- urine testing strips
- pregnancy test
- peak flow meter and spare disposable tube
- Non latex gloves
- alcohol wipes and lubricating jelly
- alcohol gel for hands
- tongue depressor (Also useful to distract kids)
This list varies on your own preference and circumstances ie distance from the local shiny white building. :
- Medications- Personally I feel you should only carry essential and urgent meds that made a difference in a time sensitive manner so my list is limited to aspirin, a gtn spray, a salbutomol inhaler with a spacer and emergency medication kit of benzyl penicillin with water and syringe/needles and adrenaline. Sheet with age related doses is essential. Best way to obtain these is either via a local practice or private script which you may claim back on. Use your calendar to mark expiry dates to comply with regulations.
- simple first aid kit
- phlebotomy equipment- Personally I do not, my view is if a patient needs an urgent test more than the services can provide then either they are more unwell than you think or the system is broken. Either needs action.
- venflon and appropriate dressing- more pertinent in rural settings.
- fluorescein dye kit
- office equipment for your needs ie wrist/mouse rest ( I love my IMAK pack) or even a standing desk if a more permanent member of staff.
- Water bottle: to keep hydrated my personal favourite is Camelbak as robust and large.
In addition to the medical kit you will need, I also suggest carrying the following:
- smartphone – with BNF, medcalc, snellen chart, apps, map app, local numbers for community services ie midwife, district nurses, palliative care and local hospital/ admission numbers including local pharmacy numbers. For a more detailed list of apps see here.
- Spare ziploc bag or carrier bag with no holes for specimens/ disposal
- Pair of overshoes– if you feel you need to carry them.
- Stationary- paper, envelope, pen (a spare is always useful)
- spare batteries for your own kit
- spare hand wipes
- spare top/trousers for work.
- all weather jacket +/- an umbrella
- bottled drink – adequate hydration is key to keeping healthy
- emergency snack/ meal – for the bad days
- emergency treat – for the really bad days
- emergency medications for yourself ie paracetamol, ibuprofen or supply of medications you may take for your own health needs.
What do you think of the list? Any changes you would make? Feel free to discuss in the comments on here or on our Facebook page
Best value doctors bag and equipment
If you want to sort your bag and equipment easily then have a look at this list. Combined it makes a total GP kit for less than £150 with allowing £10 for extra consumables and better value than these full set options at over £400!
To help I have collated a few options from Amazon (DOI I am a Prime customer hence some ease of use and I do get a nominal fee for eGPlearning if you purchase items through the links).
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