If you are a newcomer to Wales or are trying to learn more about the health care system in Wales, the information here may be helpful.
What does NHS mean?
The NHS (Public Health Service) is the United Kingdom’s public health system that provides care to residents of the United Kingdom through an extensive network of health care providers. Some types of health care are free, but you will have to pay for some.
What kind of medical care is available?
Attending physicians / Outpatient clinic
Attending physicians are local family doctors who provide medical assistance to the local community. Usually attending physicians in their “Outpatient clinics” (doctor’s reception) cooperate with other doctors, nurses, visitor nurses, midwives, and an outpatient visit is free of charge to all residents of the United Kingdom. An outpatient clinic is usually the first place where you can access health care. If your doctor cannot help you, you will be referred to a specialist or hospital. The dispensary is usually open throughout the day and in the early evening, and when it is closed, messages recorded on the voicemail machine will help you get medical assistance.
You can visit the outpatient clinic in person or contact the outpatient clinic by phone. You can find your local NHS dispensary using phone book, NHS Direct Wales (0845 46 47), the official website or neighbors, friends and family. The treating doctors can tell you if you live in the waiting room service area and if they can accept a new patient. Ask if you need to make an appointment with your doctor, and remember to be on time for any appointment. If you are worried about not speaking English very well, bring a friend or family member who speaks good English with you. Some attending physicians may charge a fee for their services, so you should check this before visiting.
NHS Direct Wales
NHS Direct Wales is a health advisory and information service available 24 hours a day, every day. You can call NHS Direct Wales at tel. 0845 46 47 if you are not feeling well and are not sure what to do. You can also call for information on a wide range of health, treatment, and local health services. Local call rates are charged at 4p per minute.
NHS Direct Wales can provide confidential translation services from many languages, including other foreign languages. If you want to speak French, call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 46 47 and when answered, say “French”. Wait for a call from a french translator to help NHS Direct Wales provide you with the health information or advice you need.
Pharmacists are specialists in medicines and how they work. They can give advice on what to do in case of common ailments such as coughs, colds, various pains, as well as other health problems such as a healthy diet, smoking cessation. Pharmacists prepare medicines according to a prescription written by a doctor for you.
Pharmacist recommendation is free, but you may have to pay for the medicine if you are not eligible for free prescriptions – your doctor will tell you more about this. You can find your nearest pharmacy online in the pharmacy database on the official website.
If your doctor directs you to a hospital for treatment, you will usually have an appointment with a consultant (specialist doctor). Depending on the medical condition, you will be treated as an inpatient (you will have to stay in the hospital overnight or longer) or as an outpatient (you will come to the hospital to see a doctor). If you need to see a specialist, you should first visit your attending physician and ask for a referral.
Not all hospitals cooperate with the NHS. These are private hospitals that can offer treatment but will charge you a fee.
Some (but not all) hospitals have emergency departments. These departments are open around the clock and provide assistance to patients in need of urgent treatment. Call for emergency services by tel. 999.
If you need immediate medical attention (for example, accident), call 999. Calls, including from mobile phones, are free. The operator will ask you what immediate assistance you need (assistance from firefighters, police or emergency medical personnel). For urgent medical attention, ask the emergency medical team for help. Be prepared to tell the emergency services what happened and point out exactly where you are. The emergency medical dispatcher will ask you how you or the person you are reporting is feeling and will advise you on what to do until the ambulance arrives.
Dentists carry out preventive examinations and treatment of teeth and gums. You don’t have to wait for a toothache to make an appointment with the dentist. In fact, checking your teeth every six months helps prevent the development of severe diseases. Most dentists accept both NHS referrals and private patients. Even if you are registered with the NHS, you will have to pay part of the cost for dental care, unless you are exempt from payment (for example, if you are under 18, if you are pregnant or have a child under 12 months of age, or if you get certain benefits). You can find the nearest dentist online in the dentist database on the official website.
Eye doctors will check your vision and examine the health of your eyes. They usually work in central stores. If necessary, after checking your eyes, some eye doctors will also fit and dispense glasses according to a prescription. If you are not exempt from paying for a check-up (for example, if you are under 18, have diabetes or glaucoma, or get certain benefits), you must pay for the service.
Tags: health, healthcare, Wales