Health care in the United Kingdom
On the following lines, I would like to familiarise you with the basic information on the health care in the United Kingdom. Certainly, do not expect lengthy description of pluses and minuses of the British health care system. However, it is going to be more of practical information that might be useful for you to know showing what to arrange after your arrival.
The emergency number is 999 (fast).
Number 111 serves for not urgent cases, e.g. making arrangements at the emergency, etc.
As soon as you settle and get the proof of address, you may register at the doctor’s (GP – General Practitioner). There, they require similar documents (e.g. the proof of address) as for opening the bank account.
You can rely on the fact that certain services are for free (e.g. visit at the GP) and others are charged, such as prescriptions and others.
The health care in the UK is organised in the NHS – National Health Service.
Registration at the GP
- You must find the closest GP’s office, where to register.
- You must come to the GP’s office with a valid ID / driving licence / passport and the proof of address.
- You are introduced for a check-up (the so-called doctor’s surgery), where you fill in the given forms and undergo a general check-up.
- After the registration, you will get a medical card via mail. The card has an identification number (NHS number), under which you are registered in the NHS system. This makes the arrangements for check-ups much easier, so instead of spelling your name, you only state your number.
- In contrast to the Czech health care system, in the UK you are obliged to make an appointment every time you would like to visit your GP. You can do so in person or via phone. It is not possible to come whenever you decide, as you would be refused.
- If you have medical issues that require a consultation at the specialist, you must first visit your GP. If he or she cannot solve the problem, you are directed to the specialist.
Based on the above stated facts, it is obvious that it takes some times to register. Therefore, it is in your own interest not leave it for the very last moment, when you get into troubles. When you get a confirmation of your address, make an arrangement at the GP’s (you can find the closest GP as soon as you arrive).
From the GP, you can expect the following services:
- Medical advices and the respective treatment
- Medical tests
- Recommendations to the specialist
What to do, if you are already registered at the GP, but it is a bank holiday, weekend, closed or you need to get the medical treatment sooner, than you are appointed?
Visit the closest the Walk-in Centre. There, you can expect the help with illnesses or injuries that does not require an immediate treatment. You can just wait without an appointment, when you are called.
Furthermore, you might expect other services in the centre. For example, when you come to the UK already with some kind of injury or an illness (e.g. stitches that need taking out, but you are not registered at the GP yet).
Apply for the so-called EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)
The European Health Insurance Card is almost the same as the insurance card from the EU member states. The only difference is the UK sign in the circle with stars.
The registration is for free and you are only required to have the National Insurance Number and the proof of address in the UK.