So you’ve just moved to the UK. Hopefully by now you have a job, a place to live, a UK bank account, a National Insurance Number, and a new UK phone number, now you’ll need to register with your local GP office.
Registering with your local office is relatively easy, but in order to be eligible for the NHS you need to have a job, or have been living in the UK for at least a year. However if you need to visit a doctor, and are not qualified for free healthcare under the NHS they will still see you, although you may need to pay.
To register with the NHS you’ll need to contact your local GP office in your area and fill out some forms.
Photo Credit: Oliver Symens
To find your nearest GP office, you can also just search “Your area GP office” into Google to find the closest one to you. For mine I searched Google for “GP practice in Leith Edinburgh” and was able to find one close to me.
I would suggest calling the GP office to see what days and times they accept new patients. As I went into the office hoping to register on a Monday morning only to be told they can only register patients Tuesdays-Fridays from 12pm-5pm.
They’ll hand you some papers to fill out, and will ask for proof that you are living in their area. You can use your lease, a utility bill, recent bank statement, ect. You’ll also need to bring your passport and proof of your visa.
Once the papers are filled out you should be able to see a doctor within 2 days.
The only time I ever made a doctor appointment was to get a new birth control prescription. I normally would call the office and let them know I wanted my prescription refilled. I would have to go to the office get my blood pressure checked by a nurse. If I was only seen by a nurse, I’d have to go back to the office the next day to pick up my prescription or I could have the office send my prescription to a pharmacy, which would take about a week.
There were times though, I’d get the prescription while I was visiting. Not really sure why I had to wait sometimes, and other times I got it right away.
Prescriptions in the UK are generally free, and I’ve never had to pay for my birth control. Registering with the NHS is also free. However there has been talk about adding a fee, so please check with the NHS when you register as things may change.
What if you Move to a New Area?
When I moved from one area of Edinburgh to a new area, I called the new office, and filled out some more forms. This time I didn’t have to provide my passport, but did have to provide proof of address, and give them the previous GP’s information. Again this took about 2 days to process.