Healthcare in Scotland is mainly provided by NHS Scotland, Scotland's public health care system. Created at the same time as for England and Wales, it is actually a separate service (although emergency care will be recognized when "cross-border").
Primary and secondary care are integrated in Scotland, unlike in England. Care is provided through fourteen regional health boards. These boards are further subdivided into Community Health Partnerships.
Despite the extensive public health care, many people rely on auxiliary private medical treatment. This is because of the long wait times for even standard procedures.
The system works by General Practitioners (GPs) providing primary health care. If a patient needs further evaluation, they are referred to a specialist. Hospitals provide more specialist services, including care for patients with psychiatric illnesses. Hospitals also provide access to Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments.
To go to a doctor under the national plan, you should register with a local General Practitioner. NHS's website offers listings of local doctors. Asking friends, colleagues or neighbors for recommendations is always a good idea. Choose the GP practice you would like to go to and check that the practice covers where you live.
To see the doctor you are usually required to make an appointment. Many GPs also operate open surgery hours (when you can see the doctor without an appointment), which are typically from 9:00 to 11:00 on weekday mornings.
A NHS medical card or NHS number isn't strictly necessary to register with a GP or to get NHS treatment, but some GPs will send you a new NHS medical card.
To go to a doctor under the national plan, you should register with a local NHS board. They will offer a list of local dentists who provide NHS treatment or you can visit them online at http://www.nhs24.com/content/.
The quality of NHS dentistry can be lower than that of private dentistry. Regulations by the government have imposed cost and time restrictions to a negative effect. Unlike doctors, dentists are under no obligation to treat anyone, even in an emergency.
There is a standard NHS charge for dental check-ups (usually less than 10 GBP). People under 16, pensioners, pregnant woman, people on permanent disability, low-income, and students under 19 are entitled to free treatment. A guide to health costs is available from any citizens advice bureau and Jobcentre Plus office. You can also get it online at
Recommendations from friends, colleagues and neighbours is the best way to find a dentist. Listings can also be found under "Dental Surgeons" in the Yellow Pages or through Edinburgh Directory.
With so much to deal with before leaving your home country, (taxes, moving house, paperwork etc.) the careful planning of your expatriation to Edinburgh is an essential step. As far as healthcare is concerned, your local social security scheme won’t be accompanying you to your host country and, once abroad, you might be surprised by the care system you find in United Kingdom. So, before leaving, make sure you have appropriate cover!
EasyExpat.com works in partnership with APRIL International to provide specific insurance solutions for travelling or staying outside your country of nationality.
Designed for either short or long stays, APRIL International’s insurance policies offer protection against any problems that might arise before departure or during your time in United Kingdom: cancelling your trip, medical expenses following an illness or accident, needing to be repatriated, causing damage to a third party or losing your luggage.
For more information on expat health insurance in the United Kingdom, visit our partner APRIL International