How to … register with a doctor

October 28, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

Don’t wait until you’re ill to see a doctor – make sure it’s one of the first things you do when you arrive in the UK. You see, you can’t just turn up at the doctor’s office and get an appointment, as you need to register with a local doctor first. This is why it’s important to get it done as soon as possible.

Firstly, you’ll need to know a fee new words. A ‘GP’ is what we call a family doctor (it means General Practitioner), and they can check you out for all sorts of different illnesses, both physical and mental. After they have done that, they’ll issue a prescription, which you take to the nearest chemist (the name for the drugstore or pharmacy in the UK), or if you’ve got a serious illness, or need more specialised care that your GP can’t offer, then they’ll refer you to a hospital.

That’s the usual process, but you’ll need to register at your local GP surgery first. Don’t worry, ‘surgery’ is just what we call the GP’s office – you don’t have to have an operation. There are lots of doctors with whom you’ll be able to register, so finding one won’t be difficult.

Obviously you should choose somewhere near where you live…

Registering at the surgery is pretty simple, and you’ll need to remember to bring a letter from your university or college that proves you’re a student, as well as your passport and biometric residence permit. You might also need a proof of address, such as your contract for your accommodation. Registering with a doctor means that you won’t be charged for using the National Health Service. In fact, you’ve already paid for it, remember? That immigration health surcharge fee that you had to pay when you applied for your visa is meant to cover most of your health-related expenses, so make sure that you don’t end up paying even more because you forgot to register with a doctor.

This doesn’t mean that all your health and medical expenses will be free, and you’ll have to pay for certain treatments and procedures at hospitals. But your initial appointment with your GP will be free, and for students on courses of any duration in England, Scotland, and Wales can have free appointments. In Northern Ireland, only students on courses of 6 months or more can get free appointments, so you’ll need to make sure that you don’t get a surprise bill at the end of the appointment.

After you register with your local GP, you’ll receive a medical card through the post with your NHS number. Make sure you take this with you when you visit the doctor, and don’t lose it! And that should be everything. Hopefully you won’t need to visit the doctor very often – or at all – during your stay in the UK, but make sure you’re prepared.

Tags: , , , ,
Category: blog, Postgraduate, Undergraduate