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Seeing a doctor in the UK

When you arrive in any country you intend to stay in for a little while, one of the first things you should do is to register with a doctor. If you haven’t done this already, I’ll talk you through the process using snapshots from Alternatively, you can follow the link and try it yourself!


register gp

Anyone living in the UK is entitled to free healthcare, so it’s free to register with and see a GP (general practitioner). The GP is usually the doctor you will see most regularly unless you are seriously ill and are spending time in hospital.

You’ll probably want register at a GP surgery near to where you live, but some people have one close to work if that suits them better.

The first step is to find the closest surgery, which you do by clicking here.

On the next page, you’ll need to enter your postcode and hit ‘search’ or ‘use your location’ if you are in the area you wish to search.

find gp

This is the first hit I get when I search, and you can see it’s pretty close (0.3miles away). Happily, they are accepting new patients and I can register there even if I live in a different area.

Click on the name of the clinic if you want to proceed.

gp survery

Apparently, this surgery is accepting new patients, but I’d check when you contact them.

I’ll provide some materials you can use to prepare for a conversation with a receptionist later, but for now lets look at the website as you might be able to register online..

overview gp

Most GP surgeries use medical apps to make appointments and overall, they are good. Because I’m using a laptop to write this, I’ll take a look at registering via the website.

What follows is a standard registration form which should be familiar to you, but I’ll list below any terms which I think might be problematic.

Practice (n) – another name for a GP surgery or medical centre

Next of kin – this a person who will be contacted in an emergency or if the surgery cannot contact you for some reason. This will usually be a partner or member of your family but make sure this person lives in the UK.

Opt in/opt out (phrasal vb) – Decide whether you want to be part of a scheme or not.

Talking to a receptionist

Once you have completed the form, you will likely be asked to visit the clinic so they can complete a record for you. The following website provides some useful phrases that you will here in a medical practice reception and what to say in response. I’d recommend matching up the phrases so you can practice them more effectively.


I’ll leave the rest to you, but don’t forget to take a form of ID with you (passport is best) as well as proof of your address (a gas, water or electricity bill is fine). Good luck!

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