Information about healthcare in the UK, including how to register with a doctor, dentist and optician.


Healthcare in the UK

Healthcare in the UK is provided by the National Health Service (NHS), a publicly funded service which is free at the point of use for people resident in the UK (including those who paid the NHS surcharge as part of their visa application).

You will need to register for some services before you can use them, whilst others operate on a 'walk-in' basis.  For example, if you want to be able to book an appointment to see a doctor you will need to register with a doctor's surgery.

Some services such as dental and optical treatment are not free of charge.  You may also be required to pay for some prescriptions.  

Registering with a doctor

During your first few weeks in Sheffield you may want to register with a General Practitioner (GP).  GP's are doctors who deal with a range of physical and mental health problems and prescribe medicines that you are unable to purchase from pharmacies over the counter.

GP's work in local surgeries alongside nurses who provide vaccinations, health living advice and referrals to other health services.  Your GP is the first point of contact for nearly all NHS patients.  They can direct you to other NHS services and are experts in family medicine, preventative care, health education and treating people with multiple and long-term conditions.   If you need or want to see a specialist doctor you will need a referral from your GP.  GP surgeries have catchment areas so you will need to check whether the street where you live or will live falls into their catchment area.  You can do this via the NHS website.

Once you have chosen a surgery, contact the practice directly and ask to register with them. You will be asked to complete a registration form and you may be asked to show your passport and proof of address.  When making an appointment, please be aware that it is normal to wait two or three days before you can see a doctor and for non-urgent cases the wait can be up to a week.

Patients are registered with the surgery rather than a particular GP so if you wish to see the same GP each time you visit you will have to request this when making the appointment.  It is best to be prepared to see a different GP if you need to make an appointment at short notice.  

Registering with a dentist

Dental services are provided by the NHS. It can sometimes be difficult to find a dentist who is willing to take on new patients, therefore you may need to join a waiting list.

Private dental care is more expensive than in the NHS, therefore the number of people who want to receive treatment on the NHS is higher than the number of people dentists choose to add to the NHS patient list.

It is not uncommon for people to use private dentists. You can search for dentists in Sheffield on the NHS website.

Medical treatment without registration

NHS walk-in centres provide a service that complements GPs and Accident and Emergency services.  Sheffield walk-in centre offers healthcare services to anybody living in Sheffield without the need to register as a patient there.  You do not need to pre-book an appointment and can drop in and wait to see a nurse for the treatment of minor illnesses and infections.  You can also visit the Minor Injuries Unit (for adults only) for the treatment of minor injuries including broken bones, burns and cuts.

Sheffield NHS walk-in centre

Rockingham House

75 Broad Lane


S1 3PB

Opening hours

The Minor Injuries Unit

Hallamshire Hospital

Opening hours

Urgent care and medical emergencies

You may need advice or treatment within 24 hours but do not need to go to the Accident & Emergency (A&E) department.  There are other services available instead of A&E which can often help you get the advice and/or treatment you need quicker.  There is also information about choosing the right urgent care on the Sheffield urgent care web pages.

NHS 111

Call 111 or visit if you need medical advice and are not sure what service you need but it is not an emergency.  The NHS 111 service is available 24/7.  Depending on the situation, the NHS 111 team can connect you to a nurse, emergency dentist or GP and they can arrange for an ambulance if they think you need one.  

Medical emergencies

Immediate medical care is available for emergencies which are life threatening by dialling 999 and requesting an ambulance.  

This number is only to be used for life-threatening conditions and emergencies for example where someone is suffering from loss of consciousness, an acute confused state, fits that aren't stopping, chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding that can't be stopped, server allergic reactions or sever burns or scalds.

A&E departments provide immediate emergency care for people who show symptoms of serious illness or who are badly injured.  Emergency services are usually very busy and should only be used in serious or life-threatening situations.

Accident & Emergency departments in Sheffield

For adults only:

Northern General Hospital

Herries Road


S5 7AU

0114 243 4343

For children only:

Sheffield Children's Hospital

Western Bank


S10 2TH

0114 271 7000

Emergency dental care

If you need urgent detail treatment you can call 0844 736 8440.  The Urgent Dental Care line is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for both adults and children. Examples of issues that need urgent dental care can include: signs of spreading infection (e.g. fever, tiredness, sore or swollen glands/nodes in your neck), oral or facial swelling, severe oral or dental pain, dental trauma (e.g. a broken tooth which is sore or bleeding), suspected oral cancer.


If appropriate, a doctor may issue you with a prescription for medicine which you can collect from a pharmacy.  Prescriptions incur a small charge.  If you need continued medication you may find it cheaper to get a prescription pre-payment certificate; your doctor will be able to advise you further.


Pharmacists are experts in medicines and how medicines work and can provide advice and treatment for most common illnesses.  Most have a quiet area where you can speak in private and many are open during the evening and weekend, no appointment is needed.  

See a list of pharmacies in Sheffield including their location and opening hours.

Midwives and health visitors

Midwives provide care for women, babies an their families from when you find out you are pregnant until just after your child is born.  You are able to contact a midwife through your local GP surgery.

Health visitors are usually qualified nurses based in GP surgeries, health centres and some children's centres.


Anyone who needs optical treatment can make an appointment with any optician of their choice.  There is a minimum charge for eye test.  See the following link for a list of opticians in Sheffield.

Private health insurance

Even if you are entitled to free NHS treatment, you may consider taking out private medical insurance.  Sometimes there are waiting lists for non-emergency NHS services and private medical insurance could give you much quicker access to the treatment you need.

Private medical insurance is provided by a number of organisations including:



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