Using the NHS and other health services during coronavirus
Find out how you can get medical help and prescriptions online or over the phone during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
At the moment it can be hard to know what to do if you're unwell or have a concern about your health.
It's important to:
- get medical help if you think you need it
- keep any appointments or procedures you have booked – unless you’re told not to go
- go to hospital if you’re advised to
NHS services have made changes to make sure it's safe for you to be seen during coronavirus. There are also ways to get medical help and prescriptions online or over the phone.
Health information and advice
The best place to get accurate health information is the NHS website.
The NHS website has information and advice on:
You can also check your GP surgery's website. Lots of GP surgeries have online services where you can get advice and support from your GP surgery team. Find your GP surgery to get its website details.
Help and support from a GP
If you need to contact a GP, do not go into the surgery in person.
- visit the GP surgery's website, or use an online service to contact your GP – find your GP surgery to get its website details
- call your GP surgery
Your GP surgery will then give you advice about what to do.
A phone or video call with a GP, nurse or other healthcare professional may be booked for you.
You'll only be asked to visit the surgery if absolutely necessary.
Your GP surgery may be very busy at the moment and you may have to wait longer than usual to speak to someone if it's not urgent.
Online services and apps
If you're registered with a GP surgery, you can use online services and apps that may allow you to:
- order repeat prescriptions
- see parts of your health record, including test results
- book, check or cancel appointments
You may not be able to book appointments at the moment. Please check your GP surgery's website for how to contact staff (find your GP surgery to get its website details).
If you can book an appointment, it is likely to be a phone or video appointment.
Find out how to start using online services.
If you have a repeat prescription that you usually request at your GP surgery or pharmacy, you can do this online.
You can order repeat prescriptions using:
- online services and apps linked to your GP surgery
- pharmacies that have an online repeat prescription service – you can search for these online
Do not go to your GP surgery or pharmacy to order prescriptions. Call them if you cannot order your prescription online.
When you order your prescription, order it at the same time and in the same amount you usually would. Do not order more than you need as this may mean someone else will be unable to get their medicine.
Read more about how to order repeat prescriptions online.
If you have a hospital appointment, it's important to go.
Some changes have been made to hospital services:
- you must wear something that covers your nose and mouth when you go to a hospital
- some appointments may be online, by phone or by video call
- you may be asked to come to your appointment alone, if you can
- some appointments may be cancelled or rescheduled – but keep going to any appointments you usually have, unless you're told not to
If you're having surgery or a procedure:
- you, the people you live with and anyone in your support bubble may need to self-isolate before you go into hospital
- you may need a test to check if you have coronavirus before you go into hospital
Your hospital will contact you with more information about what you need to do.
In England, some routine dental treatments are now available again.
Changes have been made to keep you and the dental care team safe.
Contact your dentist by phone or email. Only visit if you’ve been told to.
If you think you need urgent dental treatment, do not go to a dentist.
- call your dentist
- use the NHS 111 online service if you cannot contact your dentist or you do not have one
They can give you advice, help you contact an urgent dental service or arrange treatment if needed.
Do not contact a GP. They cannot provide dental treatment.
Sexual health clinics
Call a sexual health clinic if you need help or advice about sexual health issues like sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or contraception.
Clinics can be busy, so you may need to wait for your call to be answered and you may need to call more than once.
Only go to a clinic if you’ve been told to.
If you need contraception, call your GP surgery or a sexual health clinic as soon as possible. Only go in person if you've been told to.
You'll usually have a phone or video consultation. You'll get an electronic prescription you can use to collect your contraception from a pharmacy or get it delivered.
It can take longer to get contraception at the moment and some types are not widely available.
You'll be told about other types of contraception you can use if you’re unable to get the type you want.
Urgent medical help
If you need urgent medical help, use the regular NHS 111 online service.
The 111 online service asks questions about your symptoms to help you get the help you need.
Call 111 if you need urgent help for a child under 5 or cannot get help online.
Emergency medical help
For life-threatening emergencies, call 999 for an ambulance.
Try to avoid going straight to A&E instead of calling an ambulance.
British Sign Language support
You can use a free British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter video service to help with things like medical appointments, calling your GP surgery or speaking to a pharmacist.