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NHS services explained


This section provides an overview of the most common services provided by the NHS in England, such as emergency and urgent care, general practitioners (GPs) or dental services. Also get advice on how to access each service, do's and don't's in emergencies and the costs involved (if any).


Where to go for treatment

Only call 999 or go to A&E in a genuine emergency. There's a wide range of other options for getting treatment quickly. Ask yourself the following questions before you decide what to do:

1. Can I treat myself at home?
2. Could my local pharmacist help?
3. Could I call NHS 111?
4. Can I go to a walk-in centre?
5. Can I see my local GP?
6. Could a minor injuries unit help?
7. Is it really an emergency and do I need to call 999?


Emergency and urgent care

Not all medical emergencies require A&E. Find out who else provides emergency and urgent care services in the NHS such as major trauma services, walk-in centres or NHS 111 and how to access them.

Pharmacy services

Find out what services NHS pharmacists and chemists provide including, information about the new medicines service and prescription costs.

GP services

The GP is often the first point of contact for many patients. This section offers information about NHS GP services, including how to register and book an appointment.

Dental services

Be prepared for your dentist appointment. Get tips and advice on how to find a dentist, the costs of dental treatments and where to complain if things go wrong.

Mental health services

This a guide to mental health services in England. Find out how to get help, what happens under the Mental Health Act, tips for parents and young people, and a comprehensive glossary of services and teams

Hospital services

Find information about NHS hospital services, including choosing hospitals, giving consent to treatment and aftercare.

Eyecare services

Get tips and advice about NHS eyecare services including, sight tests for children and optical vouchers.

Sexual health services

If you need help and advice about sexual health matters then there are various places you can go. Get an overview of who offers what sexual health services. Also find advice and information about health services for women who have had FGM (female genital mutilation).

Pathology services

It's not all about dead bodies. Nearly every patient has had dealings with pathology services at one point. Find out what role pathology plays in providing healthcare.

What to ask the doctor?

Read advice on how to make the most of your doctor's appointment. If you are still not sure about what to ask your GP, try our checklist of questions.

NHS friends and family test

The new test allows you to give feedback on the care or treatment you received at a hospital ward or A&E department. Would you recommend this service to friends and family? Find out more about the NHS friends and family test.

Information for visitors to the UK

If you are an overseas visitor to the UK you may be charged for some NHS treatments. Find out how to access NHS services and when you have to pay for them.

Social care services

Social care services help people from all walks of life, as well as their families and carers. Find out which services are available and where to get them.

Page last reviewed: 09/07/2014

Next review due: 09/07/2016

Digital inclusion

Digital inclusion is a term for initiatives that help people lacking basic internet skills gain access to online services

MyNHS - better data for transparency

See how NHS services perform on a set of different indicators and challenge them to improve

Get help with health costs

You may be entitled to help with health costs. Read about what help is available and how to claim

The NHS Choices health apps library

Get an app to check your symptoms

Find an NHS-approved app to check symptoms and suggest what could be causing them

NHS complaints

If you're not happy with the care you've received, you have the right to complain. Find out how

Get the right medicine

Make sure you mention any medicines you take when you visit a hospital, dentist or new GP

Want to have treatment abroad?

Find out what your options are if you wish to have NHS-funded treatment abroad and how to go about it

The Tokkels - Don't ignore health problems

If you think you've got a health problem, don't ignore it. The solution might be simple.

Media last reviewed: 02/10/2013

Next review due: 02/10/2015