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The Pom Queen

Moving To the UK - Finding a GP, Dentist etc

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The UK has a residency based healthcare system. This means provision of NHS treatment is based on being ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK, not on your nationality, payment of UK taxes or national insurance contributions, owning a property, being registered with a GP or having an NHS number.


A British citizen who resumes settled residence in the UK is immediately entitled to free NHS care. If a British citizen resides only overseas and is visiting the UK, they may be charged.


It is helpful if you bring a copy of your current medical records (translated as necessary) with you. If that is not possible, your doctor abroad may be willing to prepare a summary that includes key facts about your medical history, e.g. fitting of a pacemaker, significant surgery, current medical conditions and medication and any allergies or adverse reactions to medicines.


If you take regular prescription medication, bring sufficient supplies to last until you can register with a GP.


Register with a GP


On returning to the UK, it is important to register with a local GP practice as soon as possible. GPs look after the health of local people and act as the gateway to community-based NHS services. They can refer you to a hospital-based consultant for further tests and treatment.


In England, the NHS Choices website has details of local GP practices. It explains how the NHS in England is organised and allows you to search by postcode to find hospitals, dentists and NHS services. You can call NHS England for advice on finding a local GP. In Wales, you can obtain this information from NHS Direct Wales from their website or by phone.


If you stay temporarily with family or friends while looking for permanent accommodation, you can register as a temporary patient with a local GP practice. This is appropriate for stays of more than 24 hours but less than 3 months.


Each GP practice has a designated area agreed with NHS England, or in Wales with the Local Health Board. In England, GPs can register patients from outside the agreed area on the basis they have no obligation to provide home visits. GPs have discretion in light of your health about whether to register you on this basis. NHS England arranges access to care if you need medical care while at home.

If you ask to be taken on as a patient, the practice ask you to complete a registration form, which includes a question asking whether you were previously resident in the UK and if so, when you left the UK. They may ask if you have an NHS number. If you do not but have kept your medical card, this may be helpful. Otherwise the GP practice can explain how to get an NHS number.

Practices in England must register each patient with a named GP. This GP has overall responsibility for their care. If you are aged 75 and over, this GP must ensure your NHS care and where appropriate joint packages of NHS and social care are well co-ordinated.


In England and Wales you can book appointments with a GP and order repeat prescriptions online. In many areas of England you can view your GP records online. Ask the practice receptionist for details on how to register for online services.


Register with a Dentist


You do not need to see your GP to make an appointment to see a dentist offering NHS treatment. You can approach a dentist yourself. The NHS Choices website lets you to search by postcode to find a dentist offering NHS treatment. You can call NHS England or NHS Direct Wales.


Many dentists offer both private and NHS treatment. Before agreeing to a course of treatment, check the basis on which a dentist is willing to treat you. You can have a mixture of private and NHS treatment but the dentist should make it clear in your treatment plan which is which. Not all treatments are available under the NHS scheme. As an NHS patient in England, you have to pay one of three standard fees according to the type of treatment needed.


If you do not have a regular dentist and need emergency treatment, in England contact freephone NHS 111; in Wales contact NHS Direct Wales. These services can advise on your best course of action or give details of the nearest dentist offering emergency or out-of-hours care.

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If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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