The National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded health care system in the UK. They provide the majority of healthcare in the UK including GPs, in-patient care and long-term healthcare. The three main ways you will come into contact with the NHS are doctor’s surgeries, hospitals and accident and emergency (A & E) departments.

Registering with a doctor’s surgery

Once you have chosen a doctor’s surgery, you will need to register with it as an NHS patient. To register with a surgery, talk to the receptionist, who can tell you whether you live in the area the surgery covers and whether it is taking on new patients. 

If your application is successful

If the surgery is willing to accept you as one of its NHS patients, you will need to fill out a registration form (GMS1) which the receptionist will give to you. Your medical records will then be transferred to your new surgery.

If your application is refused

If you live over a certain distance away from a surgery, or if it has closed its patient list, your application may be refused. If this happens contact your local Primary Care Trust, which should be able to find you a new doctor’s surgery quickly. The surgery that refused to accept you should give you reasons for its decision. It must not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, social class, age, religion, sexual orientation, appearance, disability or medical condition.

What service you can expect from your doctor

If your condition is non-urgent, you can expect to see a doctor within two working days, although waiting times will depend upon the size of the doctor’s surgery. It is essential that you keep appointments and if you can't that you give your doctor at least one day's notice. If you have communication difficulties, or if you think you need more time to discuss issues with your doctor, you should be able to book a longer appointment.

Your doctor will usually be supported by a team of nurses, health visitors and midwives, as well as other specialists, including physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

Getting specialised treatment and equipment

Your doctor can supply you with treatment and/or equipment depending on your requirements. They can also refer you to specialist services in a hospital or other community setting. Some arrangements may be important to sort out before going to see your doctor for an appointment. For example, if you are deaf or have a hearing impairment, arrangements can be made for a sign language interpreter to be present.

After-hours (emergency) service

All doctors’ surgeries will have an out of normal hours emergency service. This service is only for urgent medical problems that cannot be left unattended until the surgery re-opens. Check with your surgery for out-of-hours surgery arrangements

NHS Direct

NHS Direct is a telephone advisory service which is available for anyone needing confidential health advice or information. The service also offers advice on where to find your nearest doctor, pharmacist, dentist or support group.

If you have a non-urgent health problem or query, you can also contact NHS Direct anytime on 0845 4647.

Ambulance service - dial 999

If it is obvious you or someone else needs immediate emergency treatment, dial 999, free from any public or private telephone, and ask for the ambulance service.

Accident and emergency departments

The John Radcliffe Hospital has a 24-hour Accident and Emergency (A and E) department where you can turn up without making an appointment. You may have to wait, even if your injuries are serious, before being seen by a doctor or nurse. How long you wait will depend upon:

  • how busy the department is
  • the seriousness of other patients' conditions
  • if your condition will get worse if left



Studental is a dental practice on Oxford Brookes’ Headington Hill Hall site that provides NHS dental care to the students and staff of Brookes.


Eye care is provided by opticians who usually operate from high street shops. There are many opticians in Oxford city centre. You can register with any opticians by booking an appointment.

Eye test and spectacles reimbursement

All staff at the University who use VDUs are entitled to a subsidised eye test. Oxford Brookes University can offer up to £13 reimbursement for an eye test and £60 reimbursement on spectacles. You can visit any optician of your choosing although Gardiner’s Opticians in Headington charge £13 for an eye test and so full reimbursement will be paid. Please contact Gardiner’s on 01865 761459 to book an appointment.