This guide will help you use NHS services to get the care you need quickly and safely.
Where can I find care?
Immediate action required: If it's a life threatening emergency
- phone 999 and ask for an ambulance
You can also go directly to an emergency department (also known as Accident and Emergency or A&E).
If it's urgent but not life threatening
NHS 24 is there to help if you need immediate advice about your health. You can call NHS 24 on 111 at any time if:
- you think you need to visit an emergency department but it's not life threatening
- your GP or dentist is closed and you're too ill to wait for them to open
- you need urgent mental health support
If it's not urgent but you need help and advice
Community Health Services
There are lots of places you can go to get advice about minor illnesses and injuries. These include:
- your local pharmacy (for advice about illnesses, treatments and medication)
- your local GP (for help with non-urgent medical conditions)
- your local optician (for help with eye problems)
- your local dentist (for help with dental problems)
You should contact your GP practice, optician or dentist before attending. Do not visit these services without an appointment.
Read further information about community health care services
NHS inform has health information to help you look after your own health and wellbeing.
You can search for particular topics, or look up your symptoms to access self-help guides and advice.
These guides show you the next steps, like who to call or which service to go to, and how urgently. These guides are produced by the same clinical team who support the 111 phone service.
If you need support with your mental health
Our online mental health resources include free apps for sleep, anxiety, and stress. They also have guides on:
- dealing with low mood, anxiety, phobias, and stress
- improving your wellbeing
- where to get help
- what do if you or someone else is in distress
Your college or university may also have mental health support services. You can check the Think Positive Hub to find out what is available at your particular institution.
If you're struggling with your mental health or need emotional support, you can call Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87. Breathing Space is open:
- every weekday (from 6pm to 2am)
- every weekend (from 6pm Friday to 6am Monday)
Breathing Space is available to anyone in Scotland aged 16 years old and over.
For urgent mental health support, call NHS 24 on 111 at any time. There's no age restriction for this service.
Infectious diseases can spread easily in college and university communities. More face-to-face contact means you're at higher risk of catching and passing on infectious diseases.
Find out what vaccinations you're eligible for, how to check if you've had all your doses, and how to arrange your vaccination appointments.
Where are my nearest NHS services?
You can use Scotland's Service Directory to look for:
- emergency departments
- minor injury units
- dental services
- GP practices
- health and wellbeing services
- sexual health clinics
The directory contains names, addresses, opening times and contact details for each service.
How to register for NHS care
If you've moved away from home
If you've moved away from your local area to go to college or university, you must register with a new local GP practice. This includes students who have moved from elsewhere in Scotland, elsewhere in the UK, and abroad.
Your GP (also called your general practice or family doctor) will be your main point of contact for healthcare while you're in Scotland. There may be a GP on campus, and your college or university may have given you information on registering with them.
If you're coming to Scotland to study full-time, and you live in Scotland lawfully, you can get healthcare from the NHS from the day you arrive until one month after your course finishes.
To register, contact your nearest local GP by finding them on Scotland's Service Directory.
You should also register with a local dentist.
- register with a local GP if you've moved from your local area
- register with a local dentist if you've moved from your local area
- check you've had all your vaccinations
- find your local pharmacy so you know where to go if you need medication
- do not wait until you're ill before registering with a GP - this could delay being able to access the care you need
- do not delay registering with a new dentist - you never know when you'll need them
Accessibility for NHS phone services
There are different ways to access the NHS 24 and Breathing Space phone services.
If English isn't your first or preferred language, you can use the free interpretation service Language Line.
If you use British Sign Language (BSL), you can use the free BSL interpreting video relay service Contact Scotland BSL.
If you use a textphone you can contact NHS 24 on 18001 111 or, you can contact NHS 24 with the Relay UK app.