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Check-ups, appointments and emergencies

If you are feeling under the weather, you can book an appointment to see a doctor or dentist. Making an appointment is simple, and there are telephone lines and other clinics around where you don’t even need one.

Getting a check-up

If you’re under 18, you should go for a dental check-up every 12 months to make sure that your teeth and gums are in good condition. If a dentist discovers that you have problems with your wisdom teeth, tooth decay or plaque, you may have to pay them a visit more regularly.

Some dentists will delete you from their list of registered patients if you don't make an appointment within a certain period of time. If this happens, you'll have to register again with a new one.

Unless you have a specific medical condition that needs monitoring, you don't need to make a regular appointment for a check-up at your doctor. However, if you’re planning to exercise more regularly or you're going travelling, talk to your doctor about what this may mean for your health.

Making and keeping appointments

To make an appointment with a doctor or a dentist, you'll need to call the surgery.

If you make an appointment, make sure that you don't miss it. If you want to re-arrange an appointment, let the surgery know a couple of days before so they can give your slot to someone else.

NHS dentists will not charge you for missing an appointment. However, some dentists and GPs may remove you from their list of patients if you miss an appointment without letting them know beforehand.

Emergencies

If you're unable to get to a surgery because you're seriously ill, your doctor may be able to visit you at home. If you do phone up a surgery and ask for a home visit, you'll be asked questions to find out if the doctor needs to see you at home, or whether you should go to a hospital.

You may also want to visit the accident and emergency department of your nearest hospital if you're seriously ill or if you've had an accident. If there's no-one able to take you to hospital and it's an emergency, you can phone 999 and ask for an ambulance.

More health information from the NHS

If you want health information or advice, you can check your symptoms on the NHS Choices website. The site also has a range of self-help guides and answers to common health questions.

If you would prefer to speak to someone over the phone, you can also contact NHS Direct. The telephone number is 0845 4647 and the helpline is available 24 hours a day.

NHS Direct is useful if you've got a minor complaint like a cold and want quick advice about the best way to get rid of it without having to make a doctor's appointment.

Trained nurses and health professionals answer all your questions and can give you advice if you or someone you know is unwell.  They can also provide details of local health services in your area.

Walk-in clinics

Even if you're registered with a GP, you may want to use a walk-in clinic. You can't make an appointment at a walk-in clinic and they work on a first-come, first-seen basis. This means that you may have to wait for a long time before you are seen by someone.

Walk-in clinics can treat minor illnesses and injuries and can give free and confidential advice on general health issues, including sexual health questions.

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