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The National Health Service / Registering with a GP / GP hours of working / Medical services out of hours / Pharmacies and Prescriptions / Dental Services / Services for families with children / Sexual Health Services / Mental Health / Useful URLs

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The National Health Service (NHS)

If you are planning to live in the UK for more than 3 months, it is very important that you register with a Doctor/General Practitioner (GP) in a medical centre that is closest to where you live. You should only register with one practice. If you need to see a hospital doctor or specialist, you should make an appointment with your GP first, and he or she will refer you if this is necessary.

Please do not wait until you, or your family, are unwell before registering with a GP. Find your nearest GP or Dental surgery by using your postcode on the NHS Scotland website.

Registering with a GP

When you register you must complete a simple form. You will need to give your address and details of any past and current medical problems. The surgery will provide you with written information about the services that it provides. If you have difficulty reading or writing in English it may be useful to complete the form with someone who can help you. Interpreting services may be available.

GP hours of working

Most GP surgeries are open Monday – Friday 8.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most GP surgeries operate an appointment system. You should always phone or call in person first to arrange this.

Medical services out of normal working hours

In an emergency situation, call for an ambulance by dialling 999.

You should only ever attend a hospital wtihout first seeing your GP or phoning NHS24 when it is an emergency. If you are ill or need medical advice out of normal hours (in the evenings, during the night, at weekends or in public holidays) and it is not an emergency, call your GP surgery. Your call will be transferred automatically to NHS 24. A specially trained nurse will give you advice over the phone. You will be referred to a Doctor if necessary. If you are able to travel, you will be asked to attend an out-of-hours treatment centre.

If you are not registered with a GP contact NHS 24 by phoning 08454 242424.

NHS 24 can use telephone interpretation where necessary.

Pharmacies and Medical Prescriptions

If you need medication your GP will give you a prescription to take to the local Pharmacy or Chemist. The pharmacist can give you advice and information about general health issues.

Dental services

NHS dental services are limited in Highland. There are dentists who provide private dental care. Details can be found in the telephone directory. If you require NHS dental care, phone the Highland Dental Help-line on 0845 6442271. Children under 16 are entitled to free NHS dental care and treatment. As dental services do not often visit schools, parents will need to register their child with a dentist.

Services for families with children

If you have a child or children under 5 years old, the Health Visitor at your medical Centre/Doctor's Surgery will arrange to meet with you. Health Visitors are specially trained nurses who work with families to provide advice and support on child development and family health. Your Health Visitor can also provide you with information about local health and education services. If your children are of school age you can discuss concerns you may have with either the Health Visitor or School Nurse attached to the school. When your child starts school the School Nurse will review your child’s health and check whether immunizations are complete. If the primary immunization programme has been completed, your child will be offered a booster vaccine between the ages of 13 and 18. The BCG vaccination is now only given to children who live in an area with a high rate of Tuberculosis (TB) or whose parents or grandparents were born in a country where TB was common. Parents will always be informed by the school and their consent must be obtained prior to any procedure. Children under the age of 16 years are entitled to NHS dental treatment. As dental services do not routinely visit schools, parents themselves will need to register their child with a dentist.

Sexual Health Services

Your sexual health is important. Most GPs can provide a sexual health check.

In addition, the following agencies provide free, friendly, professional, confidential services for sexual health, contraception and relationships.

Highland Sexual Health

Clinics around the Highlands offer:

Specialist advice and treatment

Contraception and condoms

Support and counselling

Pregnancy testing

Call (01463) 704202 for details of clinics and an appointment.

Highland Brook

Brook Advisory Centres offer free and confidential sexual health advice and services specifically for young people under 25. They have an office in Inverness.

This is a “Drop-in” service, this means no appointment is needed. Services include:

Support and counselling

Pregnancy testing

Contraception and condoms

Clinics on Monday, Thursday 4pm – 7pm; Saturday mid-day – 3pm


77 Church Street

Inverness IV1 1ES

(01463) 242434

Waverley Care

The offers information and support on all aspects of sexual health and sexuality.

Make an appointment by calling (01463) 711585.

HIV counselling and testing available.

Condoms to collect or by post.


34 Waterloo Place

Marriage Counselling Highland

Support and counselling for all types of relationships

Relate-trained psychosexual therapists

6 View Place Inverness

(01463) 712888

Mental Health Services

There are Community Mental Health Teams in all areas of Highland.

If you have a mental illness or need support from the mental health service you should first discuss this with your GP.

Your GP will assess your situation and if necessary make a referral to the local Community Mental Health Team. The team will normally contact you within 4 weeks, or sooner if it is urgent.

The service you receive will depend on your needs:

  • a referral to a self-help worker
  • an assessment appointment at an Out Patient Clinic with a Psychiatrist or
  • in rare cases, an admission to New Craigs hospital in Inverness.

A plan of care will then be agreed with you to meet your needs.

In emergencies you can telephone NHS 24 on 08454 242424. Trained mental health staff will discuss your situation with you and advise.

Useful URLs

Scottish National Health Service http://www.show.scot.nhs.uk

Brook Advisory Centres http://www.brook.org.uk/content/

Waverley Care http://www.waverleycare.org/content

NHS 24 http://www.nhs24.com/

© 2006 Highland Wellbeing Alliance.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme.