Registering for Health Care (NHS)
To register for NHS, you need proof of your UK address (utility statement, bank document, mobile phone bill, pay slip, etc), a picture ID such as passport and you’ll need to fill out a registration document specific for your GP.
The first step is to find your local GP by visiting the NHS services website. Enter your residential address post code and it will pull up a list of GP’s in your catchment area. You are only meant to go to a GP in your catchment area and not, for example, one that your friend, who lives in a different area, suggests you go to. This doesn’t mean you cannot do it, but I have never tried.
Check that the GP is accepting new patients and as well as any policy for new registrations. This may be listed on the site above, or you just might want to phone them. Both GP’s I have registered with were simple walk-in’s, without an appointment, and I brought in my necessary documents and asked if I could register. They gave me a form to fill out, made copies of my passport and payslip, and then made an appointment for a new patient visit with the doctor (may also be a nurse).
The new patient appointment is very standard and easy. In includes a blood pressure test, weight and height measurements (in kilos and centimetres), brief questions about family medical history, questions about drinking/smoking and a urine test.
That’s it. You’re registered for health care and not once will you be asked for proof of any insurance or money. Amazing. Do note some prescriptions do require payment from what I’ve heard although I’ve yet to be asked to pay for any prescription. It’s a surreal feeling to walk out of a medical office or pharmacy without once pulling out my wallet!
After registering, you will receive an NHS number card in the post. However, if you need immediate care, you can inquire with the doctor during your new patient registration appointment for advice, or if it is a nurse that cannot advise, see reception about getting the help you need.
If you cannot register with a GP for any reason, there are clinics throughout the city you can visit and if you are a woman (or man) you can visit clinics for sexual health examinations or contraception. While I have full right to live and work in the UK, I was never asked during a clinic appointment for any proof of residency or even proof of identification (though bring it in case). I just filled out a form, was seen by a doctor and given a prescription on the spot (that was kept stocked).
I went to Kaiser back home and never had reason to complain about it, though I know a lot of people have. This same idea applies to NHS. I don’t yet have reason to complain about the service or abilities of the people who work for the NHS, but I am sure plenty of other people do. There is private health care here, of course, but I haven’t had a reason to try it (or to pay the cost, when my basic needs come free). From what I hear, private medical offers a certain level of service and comfort, while NHS can be basic and abrupt. I could say the same thing about Kaiser, however.