Access to health and wellbeing services
Ukrainian refugees will be granted free access to NHS healthcare on a similar basis as other UK residents – including, for instance, the offer of COVID-19 vaccines and medical screenings. This covers any NHS treatment that started on or after 24 February (the date the full-scale Russian invasion began). This includes NHS dentistry. New arrivals should register in the same way as resident citizens.
How to seek urgent healthcare support
If you or a family member has a serious accident or a sudden serious illness, including a mental health crisis, you should go to your nearest hospital with an Accident and Emergency department. Emergency treatment at Accident and Emergency services at NHS hospitals is free for everyone.
If it is an extreme emergency, call 999 or 112 and ask for an ambulance to transport you to a hospital. This service is free of charge but should only be used in an emergency. If you can do so, you may also make your own way to the Accident and Emergency department.
If you need treatment or advice that is not an emergency, but cannot wait until you next see your GP, you can obtain advice by calling 111.
The NHS also provides Walk-In or Urgent Treatment Centres where you can receive treatment for minor injuries such as cuts, sprains and small fractures, or receive urgent medical advice, without having made an appointment. You can find your nearest Urgent Treatment Centre .
Most GP practices are not co-located with a pharmacy. If your GP wants you to take a particular medication, he or she will provide you with a prescription that you will need to take to your local pharmacy or chemist. The GP surgery will be able to advise you about where you should go to collect your medicine. You can also find information about the location of local pharmacies online.
There is normally a small charge for prescriptions, which you will be asked to pay when you collect your medication at the pharmacy. However, prescriptions are provided free of charge if you meet certain requirements. There is some variation in what prescriptions are provided depending on where in the UK you are living, but in general, your prescription will be free if you are:
- age 60 or over
- age 16 or under
- age 16 to 18 and in full-time education
- pregnant (or have had a baby in the previous 12 months)
- an inpatient receiving care in an NHS hospital
This list is not exhaustive; free prescriptions may also be available if you have certain specified medical conditions or a continuing physical disability. If you think this may apply to you, you should ask your GP who will be able to provide you with advice.
Some very common medications, such as painkillers and cough medicines, are available for sale over the counter. You will not need a prescription for these types of medication, but you will have to pay for them yourself.
Maternity care and services
You will be offered free care when you are pregnant and after you give birth. This is likely to be arranged through your GP. Maternity services cover care from the beginning of pregnancy through to sign off by a midwife: this is usually around 10 days after the birth but can be up to 6 weeks postnatally.
Midwives ensure that personalised care is provided throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. Much of this care will be provided directly by midwives, who will also coordinate the provision of obstetric or other medical involvement if necessary.
You should contact a GP or midwife as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. It’s important to see a midwife or GP as early as possible to get the pregnancy (antenatal) care and information you need to have a healthy pregnancy.
You are also entitled to support from a health visitor. A health visitor is a qualified nurse or midwife who has had extra training. They’re there to help you, your family and children up to the age of five to stay healthy.
Information on all you need to know about pregnancy, labour, birth and NHS maternity services can be found on the NHS website.
Health visitors and school nursing
You are entitled to NHS dental care to help keep your mouth, teeth and gums free of pain. If your tooth is painful you should call NHS 111 for Urgent Dental Care Services.
You can search for local dentists and ask to register for an appointment. NHS dentistry is only free by exemption (for example, if you are aged under 18 or in receipt of low income benefits). Costs for dental appointments depend on what treatment you are having. Search for a dentist online - you can find a breakdown of costs here.
You can make an appointment with any high street optician to have an eyesight test or get help with your glasses or contact lenses. There may be costs unless you are eligible for a free NHS eyesight test or optical vouchers.
COVID-19 testing and vaccinations
For the latest guidance on what to do if you have or suspect you have the virus, please visit the UK Government’s COVID-19 advice webpage.
The UK Health Security Agency has added Ukrainian translations to the guidance on COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test kit instructions.
Most people in the UK have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine and it is likely that all adults in your host's household will have received theirs.
You are eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccination through the NHS. If you are registered with a GP, you can book your vaccination through this web link.
‘Walk in’ sites are also available and able to offer help to those who have not yet registered with a GP. View this list of local locations for walk-in clinics. Patients who walk in for their vaccination do not need to bring ID and do not require an NHS number.
People who have had one or more doses abroad are usually expected to bring proof of these vaccinations to the vaccination clinic in order to evidence which doses they are now due to receive. However, we understand that many Ukrainian individuals may not have been able to bring proof of their previous vaccinations with them. If a person who has recently arrived from Ukraine cannot produce proof of their previous vaccinations, the vaccinating team will be able to restart their vaccination course. This means that they’ll receive a first, second and booster dose(s) as appropriate in the UK. If a Ukrainian individual does have proof of their previous vaccinations, we would ask them to bring this to the vaccination site so they can continue their vaccination course.
Mental Health Support
Mental health problems range from the worries we all experience as part of everyday life to serious long-term conditions. We understand that you have been through a very traumatic time and been exposed to a huge mental stress. There are Mental Health Services available that can help you if you are struggling. If you, or someone you love, need help this is best arranged through making an appointment with your GP.
If you would like to seek support for your mental health but do not want to talk to a GP, there are a wide-range of support organisations that offer helplines where you can talk in confidence to a trained advisor. These include:
Helplines and online resources
Barnardo’s has set up a Ukrainian Support Helpline to provide a holistic support service to anyone fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. Barnardo’s free helpline (0800 148 8586) is staffed by English, Ukrainian and Russian speakers, to offer support to children and families arriving in the UK from Ukraine. The helpline is open Monday to Friday (10am to 8pm) and Saturday (10am to 3pm). Callers will be able to get help and advice on a range of issues. You can also email the team or find out more on the Barnado’s website.
Refugee Council is offering:
One-to-one counselling – a confidential space for you to feel safe and share your worries with a trained counsellor (in person and online options available). An interpreter can also be provided if you would like to talk in your own language.
Group counselling – meeting new people, building connections, sharing experiences.
Group outings – creating positive memories and getting to know your local area.
British Red Cross
It is common to feel a lot of different emotions after leaving your homeland. The British Red Cross can support you, with help in more than 200 languages. It helps people who are lonely, worried and finding it hard to get the help they need in the UK. It also offers support to find missing family members in Ukraine.
Registering with a GP surgery
To find and register with your nearest local doctor (GP) service and for more information please see how to register with a GP surgery.
A general practitioner, commonly known as a GP, is the first doctor you will usually visit for routine health problems in the UK. A GP can offer medical advice, provide a diagnosis and prescribe medicines. They might be your first point of contact for many physical and mental health concerns. The GP practice is also responsible for coordinating and managing your long-term healthcare and they can refer you if you need more specialised hospital services.
Everyone has a right to register with a GP and you do not need proof of address, immigration status, ID or an NHS number (you may be asked to provide ID but it is not a requirement). We strongly recommend that you register with a GP as soon as possible after you arrive. You can also register temporarily if you expect to be in an area for more than 24 hours but less than 3 months. If you have ID this can help make sure your name is spelled correctly in your NHS records.
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