Guide to health care services

The NHS offers a wide variety of health care services. This page clarifies where you can go to receive support.

 YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gwq59Sry3H8

On this page:

Accessing NHS services

To access NHS services, you will need your own UK phone number and/or SIM card. Please ensure that you get a UK phone number when you arrive. 

Do not use a friend or flatmate’s mobile number, otherwise you will not be able to receive advice directly from your doctor.

A&E and 999

Accident and Emergency (A&E) deals with genuine life-threatening emergencies. A&E is known as the Emergency Room in other countries, like the USA.

In the event of an emergency, go immediately to your local A&E department or call 999 for an ambulance. If you are ever in doubt about what to do in a serious situation, call 999.

Go to A&E or call 999 for:
  • Severe burns or scalds
  • Choking or breathing difficulties
  • Sudden chest pain
  • Serious injuries or accidents
  • Severe bleeding that won't stop
  • Suspected meningitis
  • Loss of consciousness

NHS 111

The NHS 111 service is a free helpline available to all. Call 111 on your phone or mobile to speak to a healthcare adviser. The adviser will take you through a series of questions to direct you to the appropriate services relevant to your condition, such as A&E, a GP appointment, a walk-in centre or self-care. They may send for an ambulance if your situation is an emergency.

Outside usual working hours (weekends or public holidays), you can call 111 in place of seeing a GP. NHS 111 will recommend your nearest walk-in clinic or out-of-hours GP if appropriate. 

Call NHS 111 for:
  • Urgent medical problems
  • An eye injury that is not getting better after 24 hours
  • Sexual health problems and advice
  • Someone else who might need to go to A&E, but you're not sure
  • Urgent problems or queries when your GP surgery is closed

GPs (General Practitioners)

A GP (General Practitioner) is a doctor and your first point of contact for all initial health questions, diagnoses, prescriptions and treatment (primary care). You need to be registered at your local GP surgery, such as Ridgemount Practice, which is very near the Bloomsbury campus, to make an appointment to see a doctor. 

You can visit your GP for any physical, mental, or sexual health concerns. Your GP will be able to refer you to secondary care if needed. This is usually to see a specialist doctor in a hospital for assessment or treatment (e.g. a dermatologist) or for testing (e.g. an x-ray or blood test).

Visit your GP for:
  • Body aches and pains
  • Mental health concerns, anxiety or depression
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Rashes or skin conditions
  • Long-term conditions or ailments
Visit a clinic for:
  • Vaccinations, including those needed for travel
  • Family planning, sexual health and pregnancy
  • Minor injuries and dressings

These clinics are often run by a team of nurses who work alongside the GPs.


Pharmacists are qualified health care professionals and can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses.

There are numerous pharmacies close to the main Bloomsbury campus and UCL East. Use the NHS search tool to find your nearest pharmacy

Visit a pharmacy for:
  • Minor health concerns such as headaches, stomach upsets or bites and stings
  • NHS prescriptions or repeat prescriptions
  • Non-prescription medication (e.g. paracetamol ibuprofen)
  • Safe disposal of expired or unwanted medications
  • Headaches
  • Stomach upsets
  • Bites and stings

Sexual health services 

You can access free sexual health services at a range of locations, such as GP surgeries, some pharmacies, young people's services and sexual health clinics (also called family planning, genitourinary medicine (GUM), or sexual and reproductive health clinics).

Use the NHS guide to find sexual health services near you or further afield, depending on your preference. For further information on the range of services available, please refer to the NHS guide to sexual health services.

Visit a sexual health service for:
  • Pregnancy planning
  • Abortion services
  • Advice and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) 
  • Contraceptives, including emergency contraception
  • Cervical screening
  • Sexual problems or concerns
  • Services for if you have been sexually assaulted
  • Anti-HIV drugs if you have recently come into contact with HIV (post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP))
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations for men who have sex with men, up to and including 45-year-olds
  • Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccinations

Dental care

It is highly important that you register with a dental practice to take care of your dental and oral hygiene.

The Dental Centre is situated close to the Bloomsbury campus and offers NHS rates for dental services for UCL students and staff. 

You can also use the NHS search tool to find a dentist near you.  

Visit a dentist for:
  • A check-up and subsequent treatments 
  • Dental health advice
  • Emergency appointments
  • X-rays and extractions
  • Restorative treatments such as fillings and crowns.

Eye care 

If you start having problems with your eyesight, you should go for an eye test at an optometry practice. Eye tests are available at many high street opticians. Find out if you’re entitled to a free NHS sight test or an optical voucher.

GPs do not usually assess eye conditions, as they are limited by the equipment they have available. However, your GP can take your medical history and refer you to an optician. Use the NHS search tool to find an optometry practice near you.

Visit an optician for:
  • Eyesight tests with an optician
  • Testing for eye disease
  • Updating your prescription and choosing new glasses
  • Referrals to specialists (if your eye condition cannot be treated by the optometrist)


Self-care refers to taking action to ensure you maintain or improve your health. Many minor conditions, illnesses and injuries simply require self-care, drinking lots of fluids and getting plenty of rest. 

Stock up on over-the-counter medicines for common colds, allergies and pain relief to take care of yourself at university. Keeping plasters and bandages at home is another way to prepare yourself for self-care.

Practise self-care for:
  • Minor cuts and grazes
  • Bruises and sprains
  • Coughs and cold