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As soon as you arrive in the UK and find accommodation it is very important to register with a doctor in the area where you live. Do not wait until you are ill. In the UK, Doctors are often referred to as ‘GPs’ which stands for ‘General Practitioner’ so expect to hear both terms used.

Your GP will determine whether or not you are resident in the UK and, therefore, eligible for free treatment. You will normally have to show that your stay in the UK has some degree of permanence or stability. You will still have to pay statutory NHS charges for some things (e.g. prescription charges for medicines).

GPs may refuse your application to join their patient list if they have reasonable grounds for doing so. This cannot be on the grounds of race, gender, social class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability or medical condition. If you have difficulty in registering with a GP, you should get in touch with NHS Cambridgeshire’s Patient Advice and Liaison Service via 01223 725400 or

Once you have registered as an NHS patient, you can book appointments to see your GP about any medical conditions which are not an emergency. Home visits can be arranged, but only if you are too ill to visit the surgery. Your GP may refer you to a specialist for a consultation or treatment at a hospital, if necessary.

When you have registered you will receive a personal NHS number on a card. You need to keep this number safe. You will need it when you visit the doctor or dentist.

When you register with your Doctor in the UK ask how to make an appointment. Different Doctor’s surgeries have different opening times and different ways of making an appointment. You may be able to only make an appointment on the day you wish to visit the surgery or you may only be able to make an appointment in advance.