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Going to the Doctor in the UK

So I'm an international student and I'm actually curious on how you're supposed to make a trip to the doctor in the UK. I heard that you're always have to make an appointment before going to the doctor, right? Okay so what if I have a fever now, then I make an appointment for, say next week cuz that's the only time it's available. Then next week my fever is gone, so, the appointment is pretty useless now. But what if it's an emergency? What should I do? Like for example my eyes suddenly got red and itchy and painful. Do I still need an appointment? Can I just go to a nearest clinic right away, without an appointment? Who should I call?

I know this is a stupid question but I'm genuinely curious.
Reply 1
So yeah, it is getting increasingly difficult to get doctors appointments over here. It does tend to be you have to wait minimum a week for an appointment, you can disclose on calling the doctors that it’s an emergency and they will usually push you forward if they deem it to be urgent. That been said if you ever have something that’s making you feel increasingly unwell you can call 111 which puts you through to medical professionals who can advise you over the phone given your symptoms of the best course of action.
There are several lines that you go through depending on your situation:

If it's a routine appointment, make it with your GP. If it's more urgent but not an emergency, you can also call on the day to see if they have any same day appointments - usually if you call them first thing when they open they can advise you if they can fit you in later that day due to cancellations etc.

If it's an emergency you should call 999 and you will be taken to A&E (i.e. the ER/ED) by ambulance. You can also attend A&E yourself without calling an ambulance if you definitely will need to go but don't need an ambulance specifically (for example my sister did this when she got a serious cut on her lip, and just had someone drive her there - it might've needed stitches but she didn't need ambulance support to get there!).

If you're unsure, you can call 111 and they will help advise you on which route you should go through.

Note also for more minor ailments (e.g. cold, flu, etc), your community pharmacist may be able to provide advice on which over the counter medications may be suitable to help you.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Anonymous
So I'm an international student and I'm actually curious on how you're supposed to make a trip to the doctor in the UK. I heard that you're always have to make an appointment before going to the doctor, right? Okay so what if I have a fever now, then I make an appointment for, say next week cuz that's the only time it's available. Then next week my fever is gone, so, the appointment is pretty useless now. But what if it's an emergency? What should I do? Like for example my eyes suddenly got red and itchy and painful. Do I still need an appointment? Can I just go to a nearest clinic right away, without an appointment? Who should I call?

I know this is a stupid question but I'm genuinely curious.


Register with a GP, they are generally the first port of call for non-emergency but important health issues e.g. cold + flu, chronic back pain etc. They will allocate appointments based on the urgency of the situation/how acute the issue is. If you did have a bad fever hopefully you shouldn't have to wait a week to see a GP (but depends on the area as some GPs are more oversubscribed than others). If it's an emergency you can go to A+E, most hospitals will have an A+E dept where you can just walk in, no appointments needed. You may be waiting hours though depending on how urgent the problem is, e.g. a fever would probably be quite low priority unless very severe, so you could be waiting for a very long time, but I would say A+E could be more appropriate for acute eye pain + itchiness. Another option is calling 111, for non-urgent health advice, they can also advise you where to seek help i.e. if it is urgent enough for A+E or if you should book a GP appointment. Hope this helps.

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