Your rights

Under Access in the Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities, you have a right to:

  • use NHS services free of charge
  • have your needs taken into account
  • expect your Health Board to assess the local community’s health needs
  • treatment in other European Economic Area (EEA) countries
  • request support to access NHS services
  • be registered with a GP practice
  • receive inpatient or day case treatment within 12 weeks of agreeing to it

Cost of NHS services

The majority of NHS services are provided free of charge, including:

  • GP practices
  • local pharmacies
  • hospitals
  • clinics
  • emergency services
  • eye examinations
  • dental examinations

Services that you may have to pay for include:

  • NHS dental treatments (in most cases)
  • glasses and contact lenses (in most cases)

You can find out more about accessing NHS dental and eye treatment in the following pages:

Information about health costs

In Scotland, most NHS treatment is free, although there can be charges for some things. You are entitled to certain NHS items and services free of charge if you are:

The Scottish Government also provide information about health costs and entitlement in the following publications:

Your health needs

Your Health Board must take your needs into account but must also consider the rights of other patients.

You must never be refused access because of your:

  • age
  • sex
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • disability
  • sexual orientation
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage or civil partnership
  • pregnancy or maternity

Community health

You have the right that your local Health Board will assess the local community’s health needs and provide services to meet its needs.

Treatment in Europe

Under European Union (EU) arrangements, you have the right to go to other European Economic Area (EEA) countries for treatment.

You also have the right to have your prescription dispensed in another EEA country subject to certain criteria.

Find out more about having medical treatment in Europe

Support when accessing NHS services

You have the right to request support to access NHS services. This could be:

  • someone else present at an appointment
  • an interpreter or a sign-language interpreter, or other communication support
  • an independent advocate if you have a mental health disorder
  • a hospital chaplain
  • transport to get to a hospital or clinic appointment

You can find out what support services are available to you through the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS)

Registering with a GP practice

Every person in Scotland has the right and the responsibility to register with a GP.

Your GP is usually your main point of access to medical services and referrals to hospital.

Find out how you to register with a GP

Treatment within 12 weeks

Patients who are due to receive treatment have a right to receive the treatment within 12 weeks from the date they agree to the treatment.

This is known as the Treatment Time Guarantee and forms part of NHS Scotland's waiting times service.

Find out more about waiting times

Your responsibilities

Under Access in the Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities, you have a responsibility to:

  • register with a GP practice
  • register with an NHS dentist
  • use health services properly
  • attend appointments
  • make sure NHS staff can contact you

Registering with a GP

A GP is usually the first person to contact when you are feeling unwell and need treatment.

If you move out of the area or are physically or verbally abusive to people at the practice, your GP may have cause to remove you from their register.

Find out how to register with a GP

Registering with an NHS dentist

An NHS dentist helps you look after your teeth, gums and other parts of your mouth.

The Scottish Government provide more information on how to access NHS dental treatment in Scotland

Using health services properly

To use health services properly, remember:

  • GP practices and local pharmacies can provide routine treatment and medical advice
  • Accident and Emergency departments (A&E) should only be attended in an emergency
  • phone the NHS 24 111 service if your GP surgery is closed and you feel you can’t wait until it reopens
  • Ambulances should only be called if a life is in danger

Attending appointments

When attending appointments, you should always:

  • arrive on time
  • let staff know if you are going to be late
  • let staff know as soon as possible if you can’t keep your appointment
  • let the Scottish Ambulance Service know if you no longer need ambulance transport by phoning 0800 389 1333
  • make sure you are in at the agreed time if you are expecting a home visit

Contact information

Your GP practice, dental practice, optician and any hospital or clinic you go to need to know how to contact you.

It is important that you tell them if you change:

  • name
  • address
  • phone number
  • email

Access (Factsheet)

This information is also available as a factsheet, which has been translated into different languages and formats - including audio and large print.

Print-ready versions for professionals are also available.

Download a factsheet