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Universal health services

General Practitioner (GP)

A GP deals with a wide range of health issues including general health advice, contraception, maternity services and vaccinations. If the GP can’t help, they may refer you to a hospital for tests or treatment, or to specialist services if you need them.

It’s important that you register with your nearest GP practice by completing a registration form.

Maternity services

Women can give birth in their home, or any maternity unit or birthing centre they choose. You can self-refer for maternity care or see your GP to make a referral. To self-refer, visit your chosen hospital in person, or look on their website.

It is important that you see a midwife by ten weeks of your pregnancy so you know all the essential information and are able to have the proper tests and scans. You should contact your midwife or your GP as soon as you know you are pregnant.

Health visitor

The health visiting service is automatically informed of the birth of all babies by the midwifery services. A visit is usually arranged 10-14 days after the birth. If your baby is diagnosed with medical needs requiring additional support, this is usually referred to all appropriate services at the time of diagnosis. Your health visitor will be able to support you if you have concerns at a later stage with your child's development.

For information on your health visitor, visit your local children's centre.

School nursing service

Every school has a named school nurse who:

  • gives specialist advice to children and their families
  • provides immunisations in school
  • assists with infectious outbreaks closely linking with Health Protection Agency colleagues
  • supports national and local strategies for improving health

Vaccinations and immunisations

It is important to make sure your child has their routine vaccinations at the right age, to protect them as early as possible and minimise the risk of infection. Childhood vaccinations are offered free on the NHS to all children. The first injections are due when your baby is two months old.

For more information, see the NHS vaccination timetable.

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