When you are living in London, you will find some of the best hospitals and health care centres in the world. The National Health Service which provides free, quality medical care, is an excellent public health system. As soon as you have found a new London apartment, you need to register with NHS and locate the local NHS GP in your area by scheduling an appointment.
You will need to have your National Insurance number with you. Some doctors want to know you are registered to work in the country and that you will be there for an extended period of time – something an NI number will prove. Others won’t even care. Better to have it and be safe, than be turned away from the doctors when all you want is some antibiotics.
Now, in saying that – if you have not registered with a doctor and you are very ill, you can use one of the NHS walk-in centres. Medicine needs to be paid for, but pregnancy tests, the contraceptive pill, condoms, and other forms of contraception are free.
Many companies offer supplemental health care as a benefit, but some are cutting this out of their benefits plans. You are automatically covered under NHS, but for the first year of residency, you are limited to walk-ins and hospital emergency rooms. Once you live here for a year, you can register with a proper heath care facility and get a primary care physician, but until then, you have very limited choice of doctors and specialty care. This may be particularly important for your children.
Ensure that you catch up on all heath visits, tests, eye exams, dentist visits, etc. before you leave. The rules for tests are different here, so for instance, women get mammograms every 3 years, not every year. NHS does not really have the concept of an annual physical. Basically, you go to the doctor when you have something wrong with you. You are covered for annual physicals however, when you have the extra health insurance coverage. You can, of course, get a physical any time you wish, but you pay extra for it if you are not covered.
No one wants to get ill when they are far from home, but when you are living in London, you are living in a first world city and have access to the healthcare that goes along with that.