In the UK, primary care services are the first point of contact to access the healthcare system. Primary care includes general practice (doctor/GP), community pharmacy, dental, and optometry (eye health) services. We recommended that you register with a doctor/GP to help you access the right support as soon as you arrive.
- Registering with a doctor or GP to get healthcare
- How to access urgent or emergency medical services
- UK vaccinations programme
- Mental Health
- The community helpline
- Maternity services
- Pharmacy - accessing medication
- Dental care
- Eye care
Registering with a doctor or GP to get healthcare
A General Practitioner, commonly known as a GP, is the first doctor you will usually visit for routine health problems in the UK. A GP can offer medical advice, provide a diagnosis and prescribe medicines. They might be your first point of contact for many physical and mental health concerns. The GP practice or doctors' surgery is also responsible for coordinating and managing your long-term healthcare and they can refer you if you need more specialised hospital services
Everyone has a right to register with a GP and you do not need proof of address, immigration status, identification (ID) or an NHS number (you may be asked to provide ID but it is not a requirement).
GP and nurse consultations in primary care, treatment provided 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. If you have ID this can help make sure your name is spelled correctly in your NHS records. Find your nearest GP service.
Urgent and emergency services
The NHS provides services if you need urgent or emergency medical help.
Access to medical support in an emergency
Go to Accident & Emergency (A&E): if you have a life-threatening emergency.
Call 999: in a medical or mental health emergency. This is when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
Use NHS 111 online or call 111: if you think you need medical help right now.
Mental Health Crisis
Use the Mental Health Crisis Helpline on 0800 915 4644: if you are in crisis or worried about yourself or a young person.
Walk-in or Urgent Treatment centre
Go to urgent care services: Urgent treatment centres, minor injuries units or walk- in centres provide care if you need urgent medical care for minor injuries such as cuts, sprains and small fractures, or urgent medical advice.
UK vaccination programmes for protection against infectious diseases
NHS vaccinations are free to everyone and give the best protection to children and adults against potentially life-threatening diseases such as meningitis, COVID-19, mumps, measles, and rubella.
Vaccination is the safest and most common way to gain immunity against a bacteria or virus that your body has yet to encounter. Vaccines undergo rigorous safety testing before being introduced to make sure they will not harm us. Once a vaccine is being used in the UK, it is constantly monitored for side effects by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Further information on why vaccinations are safe and important can be found on the NHS website.
Different countries offer different vaccines. It is good to check with your GP practice and make sure you have had all of the vaccines we offer for free here in the UK . For more information related to the vaccines offered in the UK and when to have them, please visit NHS Vaccinations or vaccination and immunisation.
- Moved to the UK: Get up to date with your vaccinations - English
- Moved to the UK: Migrant health immunisation leaflet - Ukrainian
- Moved to the UK: Migrant health immunisation leaflet - Russian
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine
The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe and effective. They give you the best protection against COVID-19.
In the UK there are several different types of COVID-19 vaccines in use. The vaccines have been approved on the basis of large studies of safety and effectiveness.
More than 45 million people in the UK have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and the vaccine has already prevented more than 20 million infections and more than 60,000 deaths from COVID-19.
Am I at risk?
Coronavirus can affect anyone. The risk is higher in older ages. For example the risk of dying from COVID-19 in someone aged 40 to 49 is 3 times higher than someone in the 30 to 39 year age group and 12 times higher than someone in the 20 to 29 year age group.
How COVID-19 vaccines are developed, tested and approved
COVID-19 vaccines have to go through several stages of clinical trials before they can be approved for use. Clinical trials are where a vaccine or medicine is tested on volunteers to make sure it works and is safe. The approved COVID-19 vaccines have been tested on thousands of people in the UK and around the world, including:
- people from different ethnic backgrounds
- people aged between 18 and 84
- children and young people aged between 12 and 17
- people with different health conditions
Flu vaccination is safe and effective. It's offered every year through the NHS to help protect people at risk of getting seriously ill from flu. Flu vaccination is important because, while flu is unpleasant for most people, it can be dangerous and even life threatening for some people, particularly those with certain health conditions.
Find out if you are eligible for a free flu vaccine and book or manage a free NHS flu vaccination at a pharmacy. If you're eligible for a free flu vaccine, you can also book an appointment at your GP surgery.
Measles resurgence - are you protected?
Measles infections are on the rise in England and there is a high risk that outbreaks of this infectious disease will be seen in unvaccinated communities over the coming months.
With social mixing during the warmer months, festivals and, summer travel within the UK and overseas (The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that Europe is also likely to see an increase of infections), as well as travellers arriving from overseas, measles has the perfect opportunity to take hold in unvaccinated communities and cause outbreaks in settings such as schools and universities.
The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is the safest and most effective protection against measles. Two doses of the vaccine give 99% protection against measles.
It's never too late to catch up, and people can get the MMR vaccine for free on the NHS whatever their age through their GP. Please check your own and your family's MMR status and get vaccinated this summer if you have not had two doses.
It's especially important to check you've had both doses if you:
- are about to start school, college or university
- are going to travel abroad
- are planning a pregnancy
- are a frontline health or social care worker
Measles is a highly infectious disease that can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia, meningitis, and on rare occasions, it can be fatal. Further information about Measles and the MMR vaccine can be found on the NHS measles webpage and the NHS MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine webpage.
Mental health problems range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life to serious long-term conditions. We understand that you have been through a very traumatic time and been exposed to a huge mental stress.
If you, or someone you love, need help this is best arranged through making an appointment with your GP. If you are struggling but do not want to talk to a GP, there are a wide-range of support organisations that offer helplines where you can talk in confidence to a trained advisor.
- Lifeline 0808 808 8000 - (Textphone: 18001 0808 808 8000)
- Mental health crisis: Use the Helpline 0800 915 4644, if you are in crisis or worried about yourself or a young person.
- Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 to talk to a trained volunteer
- Mental health organisations - Mind
See Healthy Surrey mental wellbeing for information about local services.
Other mental health support services, helplines and courses
- For a catalogue of support mental health Support, visit the Hub of Hope website.
- Recovery College offers mental health courses, visit the Surrey and Boarders Partnership Recovery College webpage.
- Barnardo's have set up the Ukrainian Support Helpline to provide a holistic support service. Visit the Barnardo's Ukrainian Support Helpline for information.
- The mental health charity Calms has mental health animations available on YouTube in Ukrainian.
Our community helpline
If you are struggling or unable to find the right wellbeing help and support, you can speak with a member of our community helpline team. You can talk through your needs with them and they will help to point you in the right direction for financial, welfare or wellbeing support in Surrey.
- Telephone: 0300 200 1008 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays)
- Complete our community helpline enquiry form
- Textphone (via Text Relay): 18001 0300 200 1008
- Telephone from overseas: +44 20 8541 9944 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays)
- SMS: 07860 053 465
- VRS: Sign language video relay service
For more information, visit our community helpline webpage.
Maternity care and services
You will be offered free care when you are pregnant and after you give birth. This is likely to be arranged through your GP.
Maternity services cover care from the beginning of pregnancy through to sign off by a midwife. Midwives ensure that personalised care is provided throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. Much of this care will be provided directly by midwives, who will also coordinate the provision of obstetric or other medical involvement if necessary.
You should contact a GP or midwife as soon as you find out you're pregnant. It's important to see a midwife or GP as early as possible to get the pregnancy (antenatal) care and information you need to have a healthy pregnancy. For more information visit: your antenatal care - NHS.
You are also entitled to support from a health visitor. A health visitor is a qualified nurse or midwife who has had extra training. They're there to help you, your family and children up to the age of five years old to stay healthy. For more information visit: services and support for parents - NHS.
Pharmacy - accessing medication
Most GP practices are not co-located with a pharmacy. If your GP wants you to take a particular medication, he or she will provide you with a prescription that you will need to take to your local pharmacy.
The GP surgery will be able to advise you about where you should go to collect your medicine. You can also find information about the location of local pharmacies online at: Find a pharmacy - NHS.
There is normally a charge for prescriptions, which you will be asked to pay when you collect your medication at the pharmacy. However, prescriptions are provided free of charge if you meet certain requirements. Find out who can get free prescriptions - NHS.
Pharmacists are experts in medicines who can help you with minor health concerns. As qualified healthcare professionals, they can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, sore throats, tummy trouble and aches and pains. For more information visit: how a pharmacist can help.
Dentistry or dental care and services
You are entitled to NHS dental care to help keep your mouth, teeth and gums free of pain. If your tooth is painful you should call NHS 111 for Urgent Dental Care Services.
You can search online for local dentists and ask to register for an appointment.
NHS dentistry is only free by exemption (for example, if you are aged under 18 or in receipt of low income benefits). Costs for dental appointments depend on what treatment you are having. For more information visit: Who is entitled to free NHS dental treatment in England? - NHS.
You can make an appointment with any high street optician to have an eyesight test or get help with your glasses or contact lenses. There may be costs unless you are eligible for a free NHS eyesight test or optical vouchers (for example, if you are under 16 or in receipt of low income benefits).