The National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded healthcare system of The United Kingdom. With the NHS the care you receive is based on your needs, not on what you can pay.

England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales each have their own systems of private and publicly funded healthcare. Whilst each have different policies and priorities they all provide free public healthcare to all UK permanent residents and are funded by the Government from general taxation.

The majority of healthcare in England is provided by the National Health Service (NHS).

Online Services

Online services provided by the NHS include:

Guides to the NHS

A complete guide to NHS Healthcare including patients rights is available at:

For a guide to Healthcare for the armed forces community click here.

For information on NHS services for overseas visitors to the UK, follow this link.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (N ICE) provides advice and guidance to the NHS, local authorities, charities, and anyone with a responsibility for commissioning or providing healthcare, public health or social care services in order to improve outcomes for people using public health and social care services.

Hospital Stays

It is probable that may be admitted to hospital at some point and this can be both stressful and unsettling. AgeUK have produced a downloadable guide explaining what to expect when going into hospital, while you’re there and when you’re discharged, available at this link.

Community Diagnostic Centres (CDC)

Community diagnostic centres were introduced into the English NHS in 2021 as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in England.

Based in a variety of settings including shopping centres, university campuses and football stadiums, over 100 of the community healthcare hubs are already open reducing pressure on hospitals, providing quicker access to tests and greater convenience to patients.

They offer patients a wide range of diagnostic tests closer to home and greater choice on where and how they are treated, reducing the need for hospital visits and helping them to receive potentially life-saving care sooner.

Activity includes Imaging (CT, MRI, x-ray), endoscopy (gastroscopy, flex sigmoidoscopy), physiological measurements (echocardiography, spirometry) and pathology (phlebotomy and point of care testing).

Further CDCs will be opened across the country with a target of 160 by March 2024.

Full details of services provided and locations are available at the following links:

NHS Virtual wards (also known as hospital at home) enable patients to get hospital-level care at home or in a care home safely and in familiar surroundings close to their friends and family. helping speed up their recovery while freeing up hospital beds for patients that need them most.

The hospital at home service already provides treatment for respiratory issues and frailty and has been shown to reduce recovery times, as well as easing pressure on hospital beds. The service has been expanded to cater for patients with long-term heart conditions..

Patients are monitored around the clock by skilled clinical staff through home or virtual visits using video and other technology/medical devices, to monitor patients’ vital signs.

Full details of Virtual wards are available fron

General Practioners (GPs)

Anyone in England can register with a GP surgery to access NHS services - it's free to register.

Full details of how to register, sevices provided and your local surgery are available at NHS GPs.


Pharmacists are experts in medicines who can help you with minor health concerns.

From December 2023 pharmacies across the country will begin offering a new contraceptive service with almost half a million women able to access the contraceptive pill next year without needing to contact their GP first.

Services will also be expanded to enable patients to get treatment for seven common conditions directly from a pharmacy, without the need for a GP appointment or prescription. The new service covers sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women.

Find out how your local pharmacy can help at this link.

Click here to find pharmacies in your area.

If you run out of medicine outside of your GP surgery's normal opening hours or are away from home and need some urgently, there are ways to get an emergency supply quickly, Find out more at

NHS flu vaccine from a pharmacy

You may be able to have an NHS flu vaccine from a pharmacy if:

  • you are aged 50 or over
  • you have certain medical conditions
  • you are pregnant
  • you are a frontline adult social care worker

To see if you are eligble and to find a pharmacy that offers NHS flu vaccination, follow this link.

New Medicine Service (NMS)

The first time you are prescribed a medicine to treat a long-term condition, you may be able to get extra help and advice about your medicine from your local Pharmacist through a free scheme called the New Medicine Service (NMS). Full details of this service are available at

Dangers of buying medicines online

It is important to take great care when buying medicines online, particularly if the medicine is only available from a pharmacy. If you buy medicines online, you may be putting yourself at serious risk of harm.

Full details of the dangers of buying medicines online and how to safely use the internet for medicines is available at


If you think an NHS practitioner or social services employee has been guilty of professional misconduct, you should complain to their professional or regulatory body. For more information click here.

To find out more about any of the Complaints Procedure, Help with Complaints and Feedback follow this link.

A factsheet, "Resolving problems and making a complaint about NHS care" is available from AgeUK.

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