Why visit your GP?

It’s important to be registered with a GP surgery to get the most from the NHS. GPs and their teams offer a wide range of services for the whole family for physical and mental health problems. They are your gateway to the rest of the NHS.

You can often see a GP the same day, particularly for children. Call your practice to check how their urgent appointments system works.

GPs have access to your medical records giving them a better picture of your on-going needs. They also provide diagnosis, treatment and care for long term conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease as well as:

  • Medical tests and prescriptions
  • Referrals
  • GPs will also give priority to children 


Making an appointment:

Don't wait to be ill, familarise yourself with your GP surgey's appointment system. This allows you where possible to plan in advance. 

Make the most of your appointment:

Doctors spend an average of 8-10 minutes with each patient. Once you have an appointment plan ahead to make sure you cover everything you want to discuss. 


Who can register for free primary care services?

A patient does not need to be “ordinarily resident” in the country to be eligible for NHS primary medical care –this only applies to secondary (hospital) care. In effect, therefore, anybody in England may register and consult with a GP without charge.

Where a GP refers a patient for secondary services (hospital or other community services) they should do so on clinical grounds alone; eligibility for free care will be assessed by the receiving organisation.

It is important to note that there is no set length of time that a patient must reside in the country in order to become eligible to receive NHS primary medical care services.

Therefore all asylum seekers and refugees, students, people on work visas and those who are homeless, overseas visitors, whether lawfully in the UK or not, are eligible to register with a GP practice even if those visitors are not eligible for secondary care (hospital care) services.

The length of time that a patient is intending to reside in an area dictates whether a patient is registered as a temporary or permanent patient. Patients should be offered the option of registering as a temporary resident if they are resident in the practice area for more than 24 hours but less than 3 months.