Healthcare in London

Medicines, Hospitals in London

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If you are in need of an ambulance, call the general emergency number 999. You can find out when to call, and more about emergency services at London Ambulance Service.

Free emergency medical care is given regardless of nationality and ability-to-pay. The Emergency Department is traditionally known as Accident and Emergency, or A&E. A triage nurse priorities all patients on arrival, but waiting times here can be up to 4 hours. In general, private hospitals do not provide emergency care services.

This is also in NHS hospitals (through A&E) that you will have access to peadiatricians.

For minor or non-life threatening illnesses, call your GP or any local doctor. There are also a number of private 24-hour doctor services that make house calls.


Pharmacies (or chemists) can be found anywhere is England. Business hours are Monday to Friday 9:00 to 17:30, Saturday 9:00-12:30. Outside of these hours, it may difficult to find an open store as there are no 24-hour pharmacies in the city. The timetables of chemists are posted on their doors and in local newspapers. If you need medicine when all pharmacies are shut, contact your GP or local police station. Some major supermarkets have a pharmacy counter and they may be open for separate opening hours than the market.

There are three categories of medicines in the UK:
Medicine prescribed by a doctor
Medicine sold under the supervision of a pharmacist
Medicine that is freely available

NHS prescriptions for medicines are charged at a fixed rate. An NHS prescription costs £7.65 (from April 2012) for each item of medicine. The price includes:

  • The cost of the doctor issuing the prescription
  • The cost of the medication - subsidised by the NHS

You can reduce the cost for a renewable prescriptions with a three months prescription prepayment certificates £29.10 (£104 for 12 months). This saves you money if you need four or more items in three months. People under 16, pensioners, pregnant woman, people on permanent disability, low-income, and students under 19 are entitled to free prescriptions.

To find a pharmacy in your area, search Pharmacies in London.

Update 10/05/2012


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Sick pay... not always!
No way the employer has to pay anything if you are sick for less than 4 days running. I have been away three times this year, one day ill and then two running, and was paid SSP (Statutory Sick Pay) only 12 pounds. Apparently, that is legal!

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