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Healthcare in England

The National Health Service (NHS) provides health care in the UK and is funded by taxation.

You are entitled to access NHS care without charge. You need a HC2 form (which is available at pharmacies) to receive free medicine, dental treatment, eye tests and some glasses.

None of the people who work for the NHS, including doctors, nurses and interpreters, will pass on any information about you to any other person or organisation without your permission. All medical care is confidential.


How do I register with a Doctor?

You can register with a local doctor, called a General Practitioner (GP), by looking up your local practice and providing them with your medical card details.

If you do not have a medical card you should fill in form GMS1, which should be available at the surgery.

Once you have been accepted as a patient, your medical records will be transferred to the new surgery and you will be sent a new medical card. When you register with a new GP it is a good idea to ask for an information leaflet about the surgery and its services and policies.

If you have difficulty registering with a GP contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service on 0800 0525 270.


How do I get help with my health?

If you are ill or worried about your health or the health of anyone in your family, you should go to see your local doctor.

Some GP’s ask all new patients to have a health check. This will usually be carried out by a nurse. It is important you attend this appointment, even if you are well.

How do I make an appointment?

Before you visit your doctor or a nurse at the surgery you will need to make an appointment in person or by telephone. You can ask to see a male or female doctor or nurse, although this may not always be possible.

You may have to wait a few days for a non- urgent appointment. If you think you need to see the doctor urgently tell the receptionist when you make the appointment and you will be seen that day if appropriate. If the doctor thinks you are too ill to come to the surgery, he/she may visit you at home.

Appointments with the doctor will be for ten minutes and is for one issue at a time. You need to make a separate appointment for each member of the family that wishes to see the doctor.

Please make sure that you arrive early or on time for your appointment and if you are unable to attend, make sure you cancel it.



What if I do not speak English?

If you need an interpreter you must tell the receptionist when you make the appointment. Tell the staff which language you speak and they will book an interpreter if one is available. It is important that you and the doctor understand each other so that he/she can make an accurate diagnosis of your problem.

Who else works at Doctor’s Surgery?

  • Nurses are very highly trained in the UK. They take care of many health needs including vaccinations, contraception advice, chronic illnesses such as diabetes and can give general health advice. • Midwives look after pregnant women and their new born babies. Care before the birth of the baby is called ‘ante natal’ and after the birth ‘postnatal’. • Health Visitors are nurses who specialise in the care of children and their families and in helping people to stay healthy. They may come and visit you in your home if there is a child under 5 years old in your household.

When your GP surgery is closed

To get help you can ring the local out-of-hours service and you can receive advice over the telephone. You may be asked to visit a different GP surgery or you may receive a visit from a medical professional at your home.

You can also telephone NHS Direct on 111 for health advice or for medical help when your surgery is closed.

If you do not speak English, NHS Direct and the out-of-hours service can provide an interpreter. All you need to do is state the language you would prefer to use at the beginning of your call.

If you do not speak any English ask a friend or relative or support worker to make the call for you and wait until an interpreter is on the line before you describe the problem.

You will be asked for some details such as your name and address: this information is important and is not shared with anyone else.


If your doctor wants you to take medicines he/she will write you a prescription. Take the prescription to a pharmacy or chemist shop.

To get free prescriptions, you need your HC2 form.

The pharmacist can give advice on the treatment of minor health problems. Some medicines can be bought from the pharmacist without a prescription, including some pain killers and cough medicines.


Your GP will usually provide most of your health care and will decide if you need to see a Consultant (specialist doctor) or if you need to go to hospital.

Everyone in the UK has to go on a waiting list once they’ve been referred to a Consultant’s clinic.

The hospital will write to you with details of your appointment. You must contact the hospital if you need an interpreter to be present at your appointment.

Depending on the issue, hospital appointments may sometimes be some distance from where you live. However, you can get help with costs of travel if you have a HC2.

Our local hospitals are Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI), Dewsbury District Hospital and Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.


If you have a regular dentist then it is important you keep up your appointments to maintain your dental health.

Two missed appointments or late cancellations (less than 24 hours notice) or not visiting your dentist for more than two and a half years might mean you are removed from your dentist’s patient list.

You may have to wait two to three months for a routine appointment; this applies to both new and existing patients. If you do not have a dentist call NHS 111.

We will let you know if any practices are currently accepting NHS patients. Visit www.nhs.uk to find your nearest dentist.

Emergency dental treatment

If you have a regular dentist, you will have access to emergency dental treatment out of normal surgery hours.

This service is only for urgent dental treatment that cannot wait until the next working day and can be accessed through NHS 111.

For emergency dental treatment in normal working hours, you should contact your own dental practice as early in the morning as possible.

If you do not have a regular dentist, or are away from home, ring NHS 111 for advice. They will arrange an appointment if you urgently need to be seen.


If you need your eyes testing or need new glasses (spectacles) make an appointment to see an optician.

They have shops in most town centres. The HC2 form covers the cost of the eye test and some glasses: ask the optician about this.

If any serious problems are identified, the optician will refer you to a consultant at the hospital.

What to do in an emergency

If you or someone with you becomes seriously ill and cannot wait until the GP surgery is open, you can go to the Accident and Emergency department of your local hospital or you can telephone 999 (free of charge) for an ambulance to take you. However, this service is for emergencies only.

Do not use the A&E Department at hospital for minor medical problems.

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