It is important to know what counts as an emergency.

A medical emergency can include loss of consciousness, an acute confused state, fits that are not stopping, chest pain, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding that cannot be stopped, severe allergic reactions.

Major traumas, such as a serious road traffic accident, a stabbing, a shooting, a fall from a height, serious head injury, also class an emergency. If you think someone is having a heart attack or stroke, this is also an emergency.

What to do in an emergency?

1. Dial 999 on a telephone or mobile as soon as you can. Confidential interpreters are available. Simply mention the language you wish to use when the operator answers your call.

Telephone: 999

2. Answer the questions

Once you are connected to a call handler, you'll have to answer a series of questions to establish what's wrong, such as:

  • Where are you (including the area or postcode)?
  • What is the phone number you are calling from?
  • Exactly what has happened?

3. Don’t hang up yet

Your call handler may have more questions for you or they might instruct you to perform some first aid until the ambulance arrives.

Further ways to help in an emergency

  • If you are in the street, stay with the patient until help arrives.
  • Call the ambulance service back if the patient's condition changes.
  • Call the ambulance service back if your location changes.
  • If you are calling from home or work, ask someone to open the doors and signal where the ambulance staff are needed.
  • If you can, write down the patient's GP details and collect any medication they are taking.
  • If you can, inform the paramedics about any allergies the patient has.
  • Stay calm.


For non-emergency health needs, contact your GP or pharmacist. If they are closed, you can call the NHS helpline by Dialing 111 on any landline or mobile at any time of day or night. Answer questions about your symptoms, and then, depending on the situation, the call handler will:

  • give you self-care advice
  • connect you to a nurse, emergency dentist or GP
  • book you a face-to-face appointment
  • send an ambulance directly, if necessary
  • direct you to the local service that can help you best with your concern

Confidential interpreters are available. Simply mention the language you wish to use when the NHS 111 operators answer your call.

Health Insurance

Healthcare in England is mainly provided by the NHS, and is free at any point of use to all permanent residents of the United Kingdom. It is also free to all asylum seekers. However, if your asylum application has been refused, you still have free emergency treatment, but you no longer have access to secondary treatment.

On top of this you may choose to purchase health insurance. Health insurance covers the cost of private medical treatment. It has advantages such as shorter waiting times, a quicker diagnosis, better facilities, such as a private room and access to specialist drug treatments. Commonly used health insurance providers in the UK include BUPA, Prudential, Aviva and General Medical.


Child born or lived overseas?

Due to variations in vaccination programmes in other countries, it is not possible to give specific advice here for children who have not been UK residents from birth. For more information, please speak to your doctor, practice nurse or health visitor as soon as you register with them.

You can also find information on the WHO Website.

Your baby’s vaccination schedule

One of the best ways to protect your baby against diseases like measles, rubella, tetanus and meningitis is through immunisation. Vaccinations are offered free of charge in the UK – just book your appointments with your GP. Your baby needs their first injections at eight weeks, then 12 weeks, 16 weeks and one year. Don’t forget to bring your baby's Personal Child Health Record (Red Book) with you.

Other standard vaccinations are given at 3 years (MMR) and 14 years (Teenage booster). Girls are also given a vaccine at 12-13 years. (HPV) And children between 2 and 8 may be offered an annual flu vaccine.

Special Group Vaccines

There are also non-routine vaccines for people in certain risk groups, such as healthcare workers, pregnant women and people with long-term health conditions. And if you are travelling to certain countries. Please speak to your doctor or health visitor in these cases.

Dental Care

Dentistry is one of the few NHS services where you have to pay a contribution towards the cost of your care:

  • Emergency dental treatment – £21.60

    This covers emergency care in a primary care NHS dental practice such as pain relief or a temporary filling.

  • Band 1 course of treatment – £21.60

    This covers an examination, diagnosis (including X-rays), advice on how to prevent future problems, a scale and polish if clinically needed, and preventative care such as the application of fluoride varnish or fissure sealant if appropriate.

  • Band 2 course of treatment – £59.10

    This covers everything listed in Band 1 above, plus any further treatment such as fillings, root canal work or removal of teeth but not more complex items covered by Band 3.

  • Band 3 course of treatment – £256.50

    This covers everything listed in Bands 1 and 2 above, plus crowns, dentures, bridges and other laboratory work.

Sometimes dental care is available free of charge on the NHS.

For more information on this please visit https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/help-with-health-costs/get-help-with-dental-costs/

Sexual Health

Sexual health services are free, confidential and available to anyone.

Services and advice are available from:

  • GPs
  • contraception clinics (also known as family planning clinics)
  • sexual health clinics
  • pharmacies
  • and other specialist centres.
  • If you are not sure which service is right for you, call NHS 111, and they will be able to advise you.

How it works

  1. Fill in a form with your name and contact details (Unless you are seeing your GP, you don't have to give your real name)
  2. You may be asked some personal questions, such as your medical and sexual history, what methods of contraception you use.
  3. If you need to be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), you may need to provide a blood or urine sample.

All information regarding your visit will be treated confidentially, even if you are under 16.

Sexual abuse

If you have been sexually assaulted, or are at risk of harm, sexual health services can offer you a specialist service. They can also help you report the assault to the police, if you choose to. Sexual abuse includes child sexual exploitation and female genital mutilation.

Child Birth and Care

Maternity care is free to all women residing in the UK via the NHS, including foreign nationals, refugee’s and asylum seekers.

What to do:

Prenatal care in the UK

Once your pregnancy is confirmed, (home pregnancy kits are available in all chemists and most supermarkets) you should immediately make an appointment with your doctor or midwife – they will help you plan and chose a hospital, midwifery or birthing clinic.

In total, you may have up to 10 appointments during your pregnancy, these include antenatal checks and ultrasounds.

Various classes, most often organised by the National Child Birth Trust, are held in local communities to help expectant parents prepare.

The delivery: Giving birth in the UK

When signs of labour begin, you should head to your chosen hospital, birthing centre or community unit, or advise the midwife if you have decided to have a home birth, all of which are available in the UK. Your partner, or birthing partner, is permitted to be alongside while giving birth in the UK.

Post-natal aftercare in the UK

You and your child can be released from hospital as early as six hours after the birth. If there are complications it is common to be kept in longer.

Following the release of both mother and baby, a midwife will visit your home around every second day during the first 10 days to make sure you and your child are healthy.

Also, a health visitor will be assigned to you and pay regular visits during the early years of your baby’s childhood.

The mother, meanwhile, is expected to undergo a postnatal check-up with her doctor 6 - 8 weeks after the birth. Visit the NHS website for an extensive list of post-natal services and support available to parents in the UK, such as talking therapy.

To find out about registering your baby in the UK. Please follow this link

Preventative Healthcare

What is it?

Preventative healthcare consists of measures taken for disease and disability prevention. It involves monitoring and reassessing environmental factors, genetic predisposition, disease agents, and lifestyle choices.

What to do?

Visit the doctor for regular check-up’s (even if you feel healthy). The doctor can perform disease screening, identify risk factors for disease, discuss tips for a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
Stay up to date with immunizations and boosters.
Maintain a good relationship with a healthcare provider.

In the UK the majority of adults are overweight, and there is lots of advice on healthy eating, and reducing calorie intake. You can establish whether you have a healthy weight by measuring your body mass index (BMI) here. Other common preventative healthcare issues include stopping smoking, reducing alcohol intake, and increasing exercise.


IMPORTANT: Please keep in mind that the FALK Virtual Map has been developed in 2018 and since then there might have been changes in the described procedures and practical information provided

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.
This website reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.