Health Information Service
0800 66 55 44
NHS Direct 0845 4647
Medical service in the UK is organized through the National Health Service (NHS), which employs 1 million people. Normally the NHS covers all medical expenses. There may be payments for dental or specialized medical treatment. You don’t need private medical insurance, but it may be worthwhile anyway to escape some of the weaknesses of the NHS, particularly long waiting lists for specialist treatment by doctors or in hospitals. You will also be entitled to better quality service. However, for routine medical treatment you would still go to the GP; private medical insurance complements the NHS, it does not replace it.
About 6 million, or 10%, of the British population have private medical insurance. With about 60% of these, the insurance premium is covered by the corporate health plans of the employee’s company.
You may call the NHS Direct telephone service on 0845 4647 at any time of the day or night. You will be asked to provide some basic information about yourself (or the person you are calling about) and to describe the nature of your call. If you need advice about a health problem, you are asked if you are calling for yourself or on behalf of someone else and are asked to explain:
What the symptoms are, how they affect you/the person and when they began;
What you/the person have tried already;
Any drugs you/the person are already taking;
Any existing medical conditions;
Anything else you think is relevant.
NHS Direct nurses will use their skills and experience, together with a comprehensive computer system, to advise you on the most appropriate course of action to take. With the right advice and information, lots of non-serious health problems can be treated at home or following a visit to your local pharmacist. If the problem is more serious, you may need to see your doctor or go to hospital. Whatever the problem, the NHS Direct nurse will listen to the symptoms you describe and advise you what to do for the best. If your problem is very serious, they will connect you to the ambulance service.
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