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This information is designed to help you establish yourselves in the UK and contains many useful hints and tips about using the National Health Service (NHS) in England. 

Registering with a Doctor

A General Practitioner (GP) - A GP is the first doctor you will usually visit when accessing healthcare in the UK. GPs are highly skilled doctors who are trained in all aspects of general medicine e.g. child health, adult medicine and mental health. 

Practice nurses are qualified and registered nurses who usually run clinics for long-term conditions e.g. diabetes. Other healthcare professionals also work in a GP practice, for example pharmacists and physiotherapists. The local authority will help you register with a GP surgery, also called a practice, near where you are living as soon as possible, even if you are not currently ill.

You can find out how to register with a GP surgery in the UK.

To register with a GP, you will need to give your name, date of birth, address and telephone number if you have one. GP surgeries may ask to see proof of identity with your name and date of birth (such as your passport or recognised identity card) and proof of address. However, they cannot refuse to register you if these are not available. After you have registered with your new GP you might be asked to have 
a health check. This will usually be carried out by a nurse. It is important that you go to this appointment even if you are well. 

If you move to a different part of the UK, you will need to register with a new GP. You can only be registered with one GP practice.

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Your GP may want you to take medicines and will write you a prescription. Take your prescription to the pharmacy or chemist.

You can visit NHS.net to find your local 
 or ask for advice at your GP surgery. The pharmacist can also give free advice on treating minor health problems, such as colds and coughs. You can buy some medicines from the pharmacy without a prescription, including some painkillers and cough medicines however you will have to pay for these medicines. You may be charged for prescription medicines.

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If you need health advice or help, contact NHS 111 by phone (dial 111) or online (nhs.uk/111) - interpreter service available – indicate the language you need.

  • Help you with self-care advice.
  • Tell you how to get any medicine you need.
  • Arrange a face-to-face appointment, if required.
  • Connect you to a nurse, emergency dentist, pharmacist or GP.
  • Direct you to an appropriate local service, such as an urgent care centre.
  • Book you in to be seen quickly and safely at an Emergency Department (A&E).

What services do I access in an emergency? 

If you or a family member has an accident or a sudden serious illness you should go to your nearest hospital with an Accident and Emergency department which is free for everyone. 

If it is an extreme emergency call 999 and ask for an ambulance to transport you to a hospital. This service is free of charge and should only be used in an emergency. If you are able to, you may also make your own way to the Accident and Emergency department. Do not use Accident and Emergency for minor medical problems. Once your medical situation has been stabilised in the Accident and Emergency department you may need to stay in a specialist department of the hospital until you have fully recovered and can return home. 

Dentistry/dental care and services 

If you are settling in the UK you will be entitled to NHS dentistry, which is a universal service and does not require residency. NHS dentistry is not free except for patients in an exempt category, so anyone settling in the UK will have to pay just as a UK resident would. 

Find out about dental care.

Mental Health Services 

Mental health problems range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life to serious long-term conditions. 

Anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression are the most common problems. If you have been feeling depressed for more than a few weeks or your anxiety is affecting your daily life, make an appointment to speak to your doctor.

Advice is also available to support you on your way to feeling better and gives details of support organisations and their helplines that you can contact for help and advice.

Maternity care and services

Maternity services cover care from the beginning of pregnancy through to sign off by a midwife: this is usually around 10 days after the birth but can be up to 6 weeks postnatally. 

Midwives ensure that personalised care is provided throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. Much of this care will be provided directly by midwives, who will also coordinate the provision of obstetric or other medical involvement if necessary.​​

Anyone settling in the UK should contact a GP or midwife as soon as you find out you're pregnant. It's important to see a midwife or GP as early as possible to get the pregnancy (antenatal) care and information you need to have a healthy pregnancy. 

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