Getting health care

Getting care and support services.

Young and old hands

If you need care and support services, we need to carry out an assessment to identify what your needs are and and how best they can be met. Depending on your financial circumstances, you may be expected to pay for or contribute towards the cost of your care.

Getting medical care services

If you have an emergency:

Calling 999

You should only call '999' when an immediate response is required and someone is in immediate danger.

The telephone operator will ask which emergency service you require police, fire or ambulance

You will be asked where you are so the service can find you as quickly as possible.

Try to stay calm and tell the operator the situation. You will be given guidance about what to do until help arrives.

Calling 111

This new 24-hour a day, 365 days a year service will help patients to get access to health services for non-urgent complaints. The call advisers, backed by health professionals, can help you book an appointment when your GP clinic is shut or pass your details to other people you need to speak to.

If they think you need an ambulance, they will send one immediately just as if you had dialled 999.

You should call 111 if:

  • It is not a 999 emergency
  • You think you need to go to A&E or another NHS urgent care service
  • You do not think it can wait for an appointment with your GP, or
  • You do not know who to call for medical help

For less urgent health needs, you should still contact your GP or local pharmacist in the usual way.  For immediate life-threatening emergencies, continue to call 999.

Getting advice

NHS Direct operates a 24-hour advice and health information service, providing confidential information on:

  • what to do if you or your family are feeling ill
  • particular health conditions
  • local healthcare services, such as doctors, dentists or late night opening pharmacies
  • self help and support organisations.

You can contact NHS Direct by:

  • calling 0845 4647 and talking to an NHS Direct nurse
  • calling 0845 606 4647 - the NHS Direct textphone number - if you are deaf or hard of hearing
  • you can also go online at

Your own GP

If you do not have the telephone number you can use this link to find your nearest doctor and other health services.

Getting support from Carers Oxfordshire

If you need help and advice about social care needs (support to live independently, help in the home or residential care), call Carers Oxfordshire at 0845 050 7666. Staff will help you to contact the services you need.

You can also:

Hours are Monday to Thursday, 8.30 am to 5pm; Friday, 8.30 am to 4pm.

Out of hours and bank holidays: Contact the Emergency Duty Team at 0800 833408.

All calls will be taken by an experienced social worker.

Your dentist

If an NHS dentist accepts a patient for treatment, the NHS will contribute towards the cost of treatment. Dental care for children under 18 and care for expectant and nursing mothers and people receiving income support is free. Other people on low income may be entitled to help with charge. More information about dental care and finding a dentist.

Your optician

An optician is responsible for testing eyesight and prescribing glasses. If you need help towards paying for glasses or contact lenses, your optician can advise you. Use the NHS website to search for an optician in your area.

Your pharmacist

Pharmacists are health professionals who are able to give advice on treating common problems. If you require information about help towards paying for prescriptions, your pharmacist can help you.

Hospital services

If you have to go into hospital, staff will help care for your needs - immediate and long-term. They will ensure that your discharge from hospital is well planned and safe so that you have services to support you when you leave. Find out more about going into hospital.

Patient advice liaison service (PALS)

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service is available to anyone using health services. It aims to provide:

  • a confidential listening and support service for patients, relatives and carers
  • information about health treatment and services
  • advice and answers
  • information about available help and support.

Contact your local PALS by phoning your local hospital, clinic, GP surgery or health centre, or call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

As part of the changes to the NHS brought about by the Health and Social Care Act 2012, Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) ceased to exist on 31 March 2013. Their responsibilities were taken over by Clinical Commissioning Groups and the NHS Trust Development Authority.

Last reviewed
29 July 2016

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