As a resident in the UK, you are eligible to receive medical treatment under the National Health Service at little or no cost.
Registering with a Doctor
Register with a National Health Service General Practitioner (GP) as soon as possible even if you do not plan to use it very often.
NHS GPs accept new patients provided they reside within the surgery’s catchment area. A list of GPs in your area may be obtained from the public library, chemist, health centre, town hall, Department of Health and the Citizens Advice Bureau. www.upmystreet.com has GPs listed by postal code.
To help you understand the health system in the UK visit www.nhs.uk or www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk.
To register, visit a local surgery to fill out a form and supply them with the documents they request, such as proof of address.
Once approved by the GP, you will receive a letter in the post from the Family Health Service Authority (FHSA) issuing you with a Medical Card stating your NHS number and the name of your GP. For expatriates, it is important to keep this card in a safe place because if you are reassigned to the UK in future, your NHS number will not change.
Treatment provided by a GP
A GP will treat everyday ailments and refer you to a specialist if necessary.
Prescriptions are dispensed at either the surgery’s pharmacy or the local chemist. Charges on prescriptions are made per item but are free for people under 18 and over 65 years of age, pregnant women and people suffering from various conditions such as diabetes.
Accidents & Emergencies
In cases of emergency, dial 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest hospital with an Accident and Emergency (A&E) department.
NHS Walk-in Centres
NHS Walk-in Centres offer access to a range of NHS services, including health information, advice and treatment for a range of minor illnesses (coughs, colds, infections) and minor injuries (strains, sprains, cuts). Most centres are open from early morning to late evening, seven days a week. Experienced NHS nurses run the centres and you do not need to make an appointment.
You can expect to be treated just as professionally and usually more quickly at a Minor Injuries Unit/Walk-In Centre than in A&E. The waiting times are also usually much shorter than those in A&E and teams are led by highly qualified nurse practitioners.
If you are not sure whether your injury is minor and can be treated in a Minor Injuries Unit, contact NHS Direct online, who can advise you and direct you to the most appropriate place for your care.
Medicentres provide a doctor service to people living in, working in and visiting London, either by just walking in or by appointment. Medicentres are private and not part of the NHS. More information about this service, its costs and locations in Central London can be found at www.medicentre.co.uk.
There are two types of hospitals: NHS and Private Hospitals.
Some NHS hospitals offer private treatment; however private hospitals have no A&E department and do not provide NHS treatment.
A list of NHS hospitals can be found at: http://www.nhs.uk/.
Private hospitals can be found at: http://www.bupa.co.uk or www.privatehealth.co.uk.