The NHS provides a wide range of general and emergency health services, most of which are free. There is also NHS 111, which is a confidential 24 hour helpline.
NHS 111 can be contacted on 111. If you or someone close to you is feeling ill or is concerned about their health, you can speak to a nurse or find out about local health services. The service is confidential and can help you at any time of the day or night. Please see below for some quick, useful tips:
- Keep the NHS 111 helpline number somewhere easy to find, like on the fridge or next to the phone.
- If you or someone close to you is feeling ill, ask for help. Your health is important and the helpline is available 24 hours, so you can call any time of day or night.
- Don't forget, if you think something is life-threatening, you can still call the emergency services on 999.
Dental health is not just about how your teeth look. The health of your teeth and gums can affect your general health. Gum disorders can make your breath smell and can cause loss of teeth and other health problems.
The type of food you eat and how often you eat can affect the health of your teeth and gums. Snacking frequently, even on fruit, can cause tooth decay. It is important to clean your teeth and gums correctly and have them checked regularly so that any problems can be sorted out before any serious damage occurs.
You should go to the dentist for a check-up every six months. You can register as an NHS or private patient. NHS is cheaper, although it can be difficult to find a dentist that has NHS vacancies on their list. If you are registered as an NHS patient, you must go for an appointment at least every 15 months or your registration will be discontinued.
You can get free NHS dental treatment if you're under 18 - or under 19 and still in full-time education. You may get free treatment if you're having a baby or on certain benefits or low income. If this doesn't apply to you, NHS patients can still get cheaper treatment.
Dentists can choose whether to provide a service to NHS patients, or carry out only privately-paid work. Many dentists do not do NHS work and do not take on NHS patients. To find your nearest dentist please visit the NHS service search pages.
All GPs (doctors) have a catchment area from which they accept patients. This can range from a whole town to just a few streets. If you are ill you will probably not want to travel far to your doctor - so find one near your house. As well as location, you should also think about how long it will take to get an appointment, what clinics they provide, and their opening hours. You could also ask your neighbours which doctor they visit, and whether they would recommend them.
Ring your chosen surgery, or pop in, and check that they will take you. As long as you are in their catchment area, they have a duty to help you. Check when to register, as some practises take the first ten people in a week, or only let you register on certain days.
You will have to fill in forms giving your name and address, and that of your last doctor (so your notes can be sent on), medical history (illnesses, current medication and how much you drink and smoke) and have urine and blood pressure tests, and be weighed and measured.
You will be asked for some form of ID, and your NHS number (it's handy if you have your NHS card, but not essential). Complete the forms honestly - doctors can't discriminate against you and this info is also useful to guide them in treating you until your medical notes arrive.
When you register, note down the opening hours and phone number of the surgery as well as the procedures for house calls (what time you must call by in order to get a home visit) and repeat prescriptions (if you need to ask for them in writing, and how much time it will take to get one). You could also take a look at your medical notes when they arrive. You are entitled to see these if you want to. You may have to pay a small fee to see your notes.
Don't forget, you don't have to stick with the same doctor that you had when you were younger, or the same one as your parents. What you see a doctor for is confidential unless he/she believes you are in danger.
To find out where your nearest Doctor's surgeries are, or your nearest NHS Walk-in Centre, please visit the NHS service search pages.
Hospitals can be scary and not many people like going to them. They can be a place that you associate with bad past experiences or just a strange and frightening thought. However, a hospital offers you the specialist tests, treatments and consultations that are important for some medical conditions. It's important to make sure you attend hospital appointments and get the treatment you need.
To find your nearest hospital please visit the NHS service search pages. They can also help with finding your local chemists and pharmacists.
It is a good idea to have your eyes tested regularly, your optician will tell you how often you need to be tested. Even if you think your vision is perfect your sight can slowly get worse without you noticing. Having an eye test will pick this up and may help to spot other health problems in their early stages.
Young people under 16, or under 19 and in full time education, do not have to pay for sight tests. Young people under 16, or under 19 and in full time education, can get vouchers to help with the cost of buying new glasses. If you choose glasses or contact lenses that cost more than the voucher, you will have to pay the extra money yourself. Vouchers must be used within six months of the date of issue. You may get free sight tests and vouchers for other reasons, such as low income or an ongoing health problem.
Opticians are listed in Yellow Pages, or you can just call in to any optician in the high street. You could also ask your friends and neighbours which optician they visit, and whether they would recommend them.
Ophthalmic opticians (or optometrists) examine eyes for any medical problems, test eyesight and dispense glasses. Dispensing opticians have glasses made up, adjust frames and sell glasses, but do not carry out eye tests.
For further information regarding the services that opticians offer please visit the NHS service search pages.