As soon as you arrive in the UK and find accommodation it is very important to register with a GP surgery in the area where you live, you can find a local GP surgery on the NHS Choices website. Do not wait until you are ill.
GP’s are doctors who are able to deal with a range of health problems, and prescribe medicines that you are unable to purchase from pharmacies. The GP practice is often the first point of entry for a patient, and if a GP cannot deal with your problem they will refer you to a specialist or to hospital.
To register you will need to complete a registration form and show your passport and proof of address. You will be given a personal NHS number, which will then be used to keep track of your medical history. You need to keep this number safe as you will need it when you visit the doctor or dentist.
Making an appointment
When you register with your doctor in the UK ask how to make an appointment. Different doctor’s surgeries have different opening times and different ways of making an appointment. You may be able to only make an appointment on the day you wish to visit the surgery or you may be able to make an appointment in advance. Please be aware that it is normal to wait two or three days before you can see a doctor, and for non-urgent cases this wait can be up to one week. Note that patients are registered with the surgery rather than a particular GP so if you wish to see the same GP each time you visit you will have to request this when making the appointment.
Pharmacies and prescriptions
If appropriate a doctor may issue you with a prescription for medicine which you can collect from a pharmacy. You can pick up your prescriptions and buy medicines in high-street pharmacists. Prescriptions normally incur a small charge; this is currently £8.40 per item (2016). A list of pharmacies in Leeds including their location and opening hours is available from the NHS website.
Dental services are also provided by the NHS. You can register in the same way as you register with a doctor; you will need to provide your NHS number. However, whilst finding a GP is straightforward, it is more difficult to find a dentist who is willing to take on new NHS patients; therefore you may need to join a waiting list. If you are eligible for NHS treatment you can receive your dental treatment at a reduced rate, but it is likely you will still have to pay for some charges.
You can also opt for private dental treatment and many dental practices take a mixture of NHS and private patients. Private treatment can be paid for by on a per treatment basis or via dental insurance schemes. Information on private dental insurance can be found by talking to your local dental practice.
If you need an eye test you can make an appointment with an optician of your choice. You will have to pay for these unless you have diabetes or glaucoma. You can find an optician in your area via the NHS website.
The University offers a free eye test to employees every two years and you can also claim £50 towards the cost of frames and lenses.
As soon as you think you are pregnant you should make an appointment with your local GP surgery who should then register you with a midwife.
Health visitors will be able to advise you about the antenatal care choices in your local area. They will also work with you and your child, until your child is five years old, to assess the support you need and develop appropriate programmes to help give the child the best possible start in life. If you are expecting a baby then a health visitor will contact you to arrange an appointment.
Further information and support can be sought from Human Resources who will be able to advise you on any work implications. The University’s Maternity Leave policy provides further information.
The following websites give more in-depth information about pregnancy in the UK and the choices available to women: