Medical Aid in London

13 December 2010

If you have any kind of a health issue you should do a number of things before you go. Tell your doctor and a friend that you are going. Make sure you take phone/fax numbers or other means in which to contact them. Make sure that you have enough medication.

It is widely believed that medical care in England is free. That is true to a point. If you are in an accident or taken to an emergency room, your care will be free. Seeing a doctor in your hotel room, paying for prescriptions or medication or staying overnight in a hospital will cost.

Chemist (Pharmacist)

Chemists (drug stores) are abundant in London and you should have no problems getting over the counter medicines. One of the larger national chains is Boots the Chemist:

The Medical Advisory Service operates 10 am-10 pm daily and can offer you help of health issues. 020-7251-4007.

NHS Direct (National Health Service) has a 24hr nurse that can give advice on health issues and could help find a late night Chemist. Call 0845-4647.

Death in a Foreign Country

This is something nobody ever plans for but it does happen. An (unknown) insurance company had the following statement on its claim form. If death occurs outside the United States or Canada the official death record must be duly authenticated by a diplomatic or consular representative of the United States. Contact the authorities and the embassy. You may also have to have a police report and a document from a medical examiner.

Dental Services

A starting point is the British Dental Association ( at 64 Wimpole St. W1G 8YS. Ring them at 020 7935 0875. They can provide a list of dentists.
Dentists are listed in the Yellow Pages under Dental Surgeons. The name surgery when applied to Dental Surgery or Doctor’s Surgery means office where one can come in for service.

As a visitor you will not be covered under the National Health Service and you will be required to pay. If you can’t find a dentist (they don’t have to treat you) you can try the Emergency Dental Care Service at 07 07 44 55 999 (24 hours). They can refer you to a dentist.

Free emergency dental care can be found at:

Eastman Dental Hospital
256 Gray’s Inn Rd. WC1
North of Guilford St.
Phone: 020 7915 1038
Weekday from 08:30 to 17:30

Guy’s Hospital Dental School
Guy’s Tower, St. Thomas St. SW1
South of London Bridge Station
Phone: 020 7955 4317
Weekdays from 09:30 to 16:00

Emergency Room
(Accident & Emergency Department)

Emergency care is provided at the following hospitals. Please note that we call the emergency room in the US, the Brits refer to as the Accident & Emergency Department. Do not assume that all A&E departments are open 24/7 in the UK. Call first to inquire.

Chelsea & Westminster Hospital (
24 hour service)
369 Fulham Road Chelsea SW10 9NH
Phone 8746 8000 Web Map Link
This page ( gives directions.
Direct Line: 020 8746 8080 Fax: 020 8746 8121 from hospital.

Guy's Hospital (for
minor injuries) (not 24 hour service)
Great Maze Pond SE1 9RT
Phone 020 7188 7188 Web Directions Link Map Link
London Bridge Station

Royal London Hospital (
24 hour service)
Whitechapel Road E1 1BB
Phone: See
Site - page bottom Web
Whitechapel tube station

St Thomas Hospital (
24 hour service)
Westminster Bridge Road at Lambeth Palace Road SE1 7EH
Phone 020 7188 7188 Web
Link Map Link
Waterloo Station

University College Hospital (
24 hour service)
Accident and Emergency (A&E) & Maternity:
Ground Floor, 235 Euston Road NW1 2BU
Mailing address:
235 Grafton Road NW1 2BU
Phone 0845 155 5000 Web
Eustion Square or Warren Street tube stations

If you are calling to the states you need to dial the International Access Code for the States (010) + country code (1) + area code (???) followed by the number (???-????).
Example: 010 1 412 123 4567

If you are call from the states you need to dial the International Access Code (011) + the country code (44) + city code (20) + local number.
You do not dial the 0 in 020 when calling from the states.
Example: 011 44 20 7123 4567 (The Brits don’t seem to like hyphens)

Emergency Services

The emergency phone number for England is 999; no coins are required.
This is for police, fire or ambulance. Calling 999 in the UK is a tad different than 911 in the states. Well, in both countries you dial (does anyone do that anymore?) or key in the number and you will get a call taker. In London you need to tell the call taker what services you need and you will be put thru to another call taker. I have never had the need to do this but I can see Americans having problems with this.

A non-emergency number of 0300 123 1212 will direct you to the Metropolitan Police switchboard.

Medical Assistance

The emergency phone number for fire, police or ambulance in England is 999.
Emergency aid may be free for visitors but a stay in hospital, or a doctor visit in a hotel, can be expensive. One service worth looking into is Blue Card World Wide, formerly known as the Foreign Medical Assistance Service. They provide service to members of Blue Cross-Blue Shield. The U.S. number is 1-800-522-2855 for information. The reception desk is 1-804-285-3300, but you may not need to call this number. Neither of these numbers answers 24 hours a day. The emergency service line does pickup 24 hours a day and that number is 1-804-673-1140. Tell them what country you plan to visit. They will mail or fax you a list of participating hospitals. The telex number is 706305. I don’t know if they have electronic mail service at this time.

I called on August 28, 2003 to check the service and found the 2855 number to be good. When overseas, call collect at 804-673-1177. You can go to any doctor or hospital for service and you pay them direct. You must get receipts so the service can reimburse you. You do not need to call right-a-way but if you are admitted to a hospital you need to call within 24 hours. For more information call them or visit You will need to provide you ID number, which is your social security number, preceded by three or four letters found on you card. They will tell you if your plan permits this service. When looking for a hospital on the web click the link to Blue Card Doctor & Hospital Finder.

When you call from overseas, have this information ready: Your name, your provider’s name and the plan name along with the ID/agreement number. Your location and how you can be reached. Give phone and fax numbers of the hospital, doctor and your hotel. Every major hotel has a fax service.

Check the quantity of your meds. You may want to let your doctor and dentist know about your trip. Take their phone and other contact numbers is case you need to reach them. Leave your hotel name and number with them for the record if they need to get back to you. Yes, I broke a tooth once. It was not that bad so I only made a reservation prior to me leaving London. I also had to call my doctor from London concerning an issue. Yes, you’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.

Note: a doctor’s surgery is a doctor’s office.


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