The National Health Service (NHS) is a public service that includes primary and secondary healthcare services. You will be entitled to receive treatment from a General Practitioner (GP) and Public Hospitals, the medical services itself are free and although you have to pay for medications prescribed if you are based in England, these are marked at a fixed fee of only £8.60 per item on a prescription. However note that this price does increase slightly each year and there are some appliances that may incur more cost, but overall you can see the benefit. In Wales and Scotland it is free.
GP’s are primary services, if you are unwell and is not classed as an emergency you should visit your GP. When in the UK you need to register with a GP as a requirement. You normally would book appointments, but they do have emergency walk in appointments available if your condition requires more urgent attention.
Walk In Centres, these are public centres where you do not need to book an appointment to be seen and are able to ‘walk in’ and get seen by a medical professional. Often these services are used by those visiting the UK and those who live in the UK but are delayed in getting a GP appointment. It is an alternative for more urgent cases.
Public Hospitals, public hospitals are a secondary service, in terms of regular treatment these are for individuals that require specialist treatment that is beyond the scope of their GP. People would be referred by their GP to the hospital for further treatment. Hospitals also have emergency services for those in need of immediate medical attention.
Private Healthcare, there are private clinics and hospitals, and also some public hospitals have private patient sections. If you prefer to use the private services you are entitled to do so at your own discretion and cost. This will vary depending on the private service you use.