Health Care in the UK

Health care in the UK is provided by the National Health Service (NHS).

It is divided into:

  • Primary care which is basic treatment provided by a local doctor, General Practitioner (GP) and pharmacist
  • Secondary care which is specialist treatment provided in a hospital.

Everybody in the UK is eligible to register with a local doctor (GP) and to access primary care for free.

How do I register with a GP?

Everybody in the UK is eligible to register with a local doctor (GP) and to access primary care for free.
To find your local GP go to
Scroll down to “Health Services Near you” and type your postcode in clicking on GPs
This will give you a list of your local GPs.
To register at a GP surgery you will need attend the surgery and give your name, date of birth, address and telephone number. The receptionist may also ask for additional documents, for example proof of address or proof of ID.

Sometimes it can be difficult to register with GPs, because you do not have the documents asked for.

This document may be useful for you How can I get Medical Help in London?

An organisation called Doctors of the World can advise on how to access health services and can help you to register with a GP. It helps vulnerable people who have difficulty accessing healthcare, regardless of nationality or immigration status.

If you are having difficulty getting registered with a GP or are being refused specialist treatment because of your status or inability to pay, you can see Doctors of the World for advice and assistance.

You do not need to bring any documents with you to visit the clinic, only details of any medication you may be taking.

(Please note that Doctors of the World is not an alternative to your GP and does not provide second opinions for people who are already receiving treatment).

The London clinic is based in Praxis and is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 1pm- 5pm. 

Address: Praxis. Pott Street, Bethnal Green, London E2 9QA

Tel: 020 7613 4106; 07974 616 852

If you need more specialist care your GP can refer you to see a consultant in the hospital. This is called secondary care, and depending on your immigration situation, it may or may not be for free.

How do I get Immediate Necessary or Urgent Care?

Care that the doctors consider immediately necessary or urgent must always be provided by the hospital, even if you cannot pay beforehand.

Only If the treatment is seen as non-urgent can the hospital ask you for money and not provide treatment unless you pay.

What if there's an Emergency?

You can go to an Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at your local hospital, if you or someone you know becomes seriously ill and cannot wait until a GP surgery is open.

Care provided in A&E departments is always free but is ONLY for emergencies and should not be used for minor non-serious issues. If you need to call an ambulance, the number is 999.

Walk-in Centres


A walk-in centre provides fast access to health advice, emergency contraception and treatments for minor ailments, infections, or injuries such as cuts, strains, sprains and broken bones. You do not need to be registered with a GP in order to see a doctor.