As an international doctor, you will need to find a local doctor or GP (General Practitioner) in the UK so you can make medical appointments and get healthcare treatment. Your family living in the UK will also need to register with a local GP practice.
How to register with a GP
Once you have arrived in the UK you will need to register with a GP. You should do it as soon as possible as it can be a long process and you cannot be seen by a doctor without registering unless it is an emergency. To register with a GP, you will have to submit a registration form to them. You can get this form from the practice or you can download it online. Once you have completed and returned the form, NHS England will write to you to confirm that you have been registered as a patient with the practice of your choice. Find out more about registering with a GP in the UK.
Is it free to register with a GP and attend an appointment with a doctor?
GP and nurse consultations in primary care, treatment by a GP, and other primary care services are free of charge to all whether registering with a GP, as an NHS patient, or accessing NHS services as a temporary patient. A temporary patient is someone who is in the area for more than 24 hours and less than 3 months. For secondary care services, the UK’s healthcare system is residence-based. This means that you must be living lawfully in the UK on a properly settled basis to be entitled to free healthcare.
You may be required to pay an annual healthcare surcharge depending on which visa you are on to live and work in the UK. You can find out more about UK visas in our Doctors Hub.
How to choose a GP surgery for you
It is your legal right to choose a GP that best suits your needs however we would advise applying for a GP in your area as this makes it more accessible to you. Please be aware that a doctor can refuse to register you if you live too far away from the practice or because their patient list is full. You can find out further details of GPs near you on the NHS choices website.
If you are not registered with a GP and you become ill, you can go to a local doctor’s surgery and receive any immediate necessary treatment for a period of up to 14 days. During this time, you are entitled to the same treatment as a registered GP patient. This also applies to treatment within hospitals. You do not have to pay for emergency treatment if you have an accident.
How to register with a Dentist
There is no need to register with a dentist in the same way as with a GP because you are not bound to a catchment area. Dental surgeries will not always have the capacity to take on new NHS patients. You may have to join a waiting list, look for a different dentist who is taking on new NHS patients, or be seen privately. If after contacting several dental surgeries you still cannot find a dentist accepting NHS patients, call NHS England's Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 2233. NHS England is required to meet the needs of their local population for both urgent and routine dental care.
An urgent dental treatment will be charged at Band 1 (£23.80) unless you are entitled to free dental treatment.
How to choose a Dental practice for you
When choosing a Dentist, you should make sure that they provide National Health Service (NHS) treatment. Normally you are expected to pay toward the cost of NHS dental treatment. It is important that you agree on these charges before treatment begins.
Frequently asked questions
I’m a Doctor, do I need to register with a doctor in the UK?
Yes. You should be registered with a GP outside your family to ensure you have access to independent, objective medical care. Wherever possible, avoid prescribing for yourself or anyone you have a close personal relationship with. Always follow GMC guidance.
What emergency medical services are available to me?
- In an emergency, you should call 999 and an operator will answer your call and will ask you which service you require, Fire, Police, or Ambulance.
- For non-urgent calls to the police call 101.
- For 24-hour medical advice call 111.
There are walk-in centres available in the UK. You can attend these without making an appointment if you have an urgent condition. Click here for more information on your closest walk-in clinic. Sexual Health Clinics are free and provide confidential advice on sexual matters. Click here for more information on your closest sexual health clinic.
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