There’s something going on 24/7 so you’ll want to keep up. If you do get sick, here’s where to go and what to do to get you back in the game as quickly as possible.
Make sure you know what number to call in an emergency – in Britain, it’s 999. Most hospitals in the UK have 24-hour accident and emergency (A&E) departments, where you can get treated without an appointment. You’ll have to wait though.
Get to a doctor as soon as you can, because you’ll need to be registered before you can get an appointment. To find a surgery in your area, contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647, or visit nhsdirect.nhs.uk. Make an appointment with one that’s got space for new patients. If you’re caught short and need a doctor quickly, you can also visit a walk-in centre without an appointment. You’ll have to wait but don’t need to be registered. They can be found across London. Search on nhs.uk for walk-in centre locations.
If your doctor prescribes you some meds, they cost a standard rate of £7.40 per script. And if you know you’re going to be on regular medication, it’s worth getting yourself a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC), which caps how much you’re spending. A PPC for three months costs £29.10 and for 12 months it’s £104.
If you get a prescription from your doctor for contraception, it’s entirely free. As is the morning- after pill if you get it prescribed or visit A&E or a sexual health centre. Or you can buy it over the counter from pharmacies from about £25.
Women over 25 who are sexually active are recommended to have a smear test every three years, which is also free. These are usually carried out by a nurse.
If you want a sexual health test, visit a sexual health clinic – find your nearest one at nhs.uk.
The perfect smile
So now you know how to deal with anything that’s up with your body, make sure you’ve got your teeth covered. Some dentists are registered with the National Health Service, but these aren’t free; you’ll still need to pay a fraction of your treatment costs.
Waiting lists are notoriously long, but you can find NHS dentists in your area by calling NHS Direct or visiting their website. If waiting lists are long, there are plenty of private dentists around, but they can be pricey. If you’re brave, you can get yourself an appointment at a dental school for free. The students are supervised by qualified dentists and this is available nationwide, offered by hospitals such as Guy’s in Southwark, London.
The UK’s network of hospitals is extensive, and free treatment on the NHS is available to anyone living in the country – so being injured shouldn’t ruin you. This extends to all treatment you receive, from X-rays and tests to surgery. You also won’t be surprised with an ambulance bill if you have to call one out in an emergency – they’re also free on the NHS.
Some employers offer their staff private health and dental care as a perk. Otherwise, they may give you access to subsidised health benefits, which can take the form of a private health policy. Alternatively, you can buy regular medical insurance through a variety of providers that’ll cover you for quick private treatment at varying degrees of cover. Your employer may also subsidise a health cash plan, or you can join one independently for medical, dental and optical care. These let you reclaim part of the costs of treatment.