How to see a GP in London?


NHS, private, registration, numbers... All those informations can be a little confusing. Here is a little guide that would explain you everything you need to know in order to see a GP.



Registering with a GP

If you are living in the UK, you need to register with a GP in order to access more easily NHS healthcare. The most convenient is to choose a GP near your home but you are allowed to register with a GP in an area that suits you better, such as near your place of work. GP practices cannot refuse to register you except if:

  • They already have too many registered patients and cannot accept more.
  • They consider that it is unsafe for you to register in a practice too far from your home.
  • You require regular home visits and you live too far from the practice for that.

The practice has to justify any reason why they refuse your registration. They are not allowed to ask you for a proof of address in order to register but they can ask for a proof of identity.

Once you have a found a practice that suits you, you will have to fill up and return a form. If you had already been registered with a GP before, it would help the GP finding your medical records. If this is your first time registering with a GP, you would get a letter once accepted with your NHS number.



Doctor checking the blood pressure of a patient with white hair

Source: Derby Telegraph



What is a NHS number?


Your NHS number is an official and unique number that appears on most official documents coming from the NHS. It helps healthcare professionals access your medical records and then provide you with the most efficient treatment. It is necessary to book appointments in hospitals but you should never be denied access to healthcare because you do not have, or do not remember your NHS number. In case of an emergency, you would always be able to get the treatments needed, but having your NHS number with you would make it easier for the professionals. A NHS number does not assure you to use all the NHS services for free. You would have to pay for some services such as prescriptions, dental care, and eye care, except if you are officially exempted.



How to change GP?


You are allowed to register with another GP anytime without having to tell your current GP surgery. The most common reason is when you move to another area and needs a GP nearer to your new home. Once you have filled the registration form, your current GP would have to transfer your medical records to the new practice. It is easier to tell your current practice that you are leaving (also not mandatory at all) but you have no obligation to give them a reason. Being already registered in a GP practice is not a reason for your new GP surgery to refuse your registration.



How can I speak with a GP in case of an emergency?


In case of an emergency or if you have concerns at a time your GP practice is called, you should dial 111 to speak to an NHS adviser.

The NHS provides a 24/7 phone service for medical emergencies, NHS 111. You will be asked questions about your symptoms and if needed connect you to a professional such as a nurse or a GP, send an ambulance or inform you about the local service that can best help you at the time. If you are deaf, you have the possibility to make a video call with a British Sign Language interpreter who would connect with an NHS adviser.



What about private GPs and hospitals?


You do not need to be registered to see a private GP or to go to a private hospital but you would have to pay for the consultations and payments. Private practices have however often more availabilities than NHS ones and it can be worth it if you need to see someone quickly. There are numerous private surgeries and practitioners in London but the sector of Marylebone, especially around Harley Street, is famous for hosting a lot.




Julia from Findoc