Our health is probably the most important thing in life. It can be tricky to talk about your health in another language. Here is some very useful information about the NHS (National Health Service) in Scotland to take away the pain.
1. In an emergency dial 999. The number is the same for the police service, fire service and the coastguard. They will ask “Emergency, which service?” You can reply “ambulance”.
2. You should register with a GP (General Practitioner or family doctor) clinic/surgery as soon as you know where you will be living. Find your nearest GP surgery (clinic) here.
If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you should take your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If you are not from the EEA or Switzerland, they will ask to see documents that prove you are working or studying in the UK. You can tell the receptionist “I’d like to register as an NHS patient”.
Here you can access al the healthcare services in the directory of Scotland
3. An interpreter can attend official medical appointments. Your GP clinic/surgery can arrange this for you. Also you can access health information in multiple languages by clicking here.
4. If you need treatment (not emergency) but the GP clinic is not open (for example in the evening or at the weekend), you can phone the out-of-hours service “NHS 24”.
They will ask you questions about your symptoms/illness/injury and your address and contact details and make an appointment for you at a hospital if necessary. This can be much better than waiting in A&E (Accident and Emergency) for a long time. You can also get advice on the NHS Inform website.
5. In the UK, you cannot make appointments directly with specialists. You should go to your GP first and then he/she can refer you to a specialist. You can ask to see another GP if you are not satisfied and would like a “second opinion”.
6. You can get free and confidential sexual and reproductive health care (including contraception) from the Sexual Health clinic on Chalmers Street (near the Meadows). You can go (without calling first) Monday – Friday 08:30 – 10:00 and they will usually see you the same day. Or you can call them on 0131 536 1070 to make an appointment.
Their services are free for all. They do not need any proof of address or your immigration status. They will not contact your GP unless you allow them.
7. Good news – health care on the NHS is mostly free (except dental treatment). 🙂