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For information about healthcare in the UK in a range of languages, see the Department of Health leaflet: ‘An Introduction to the National Health Service’ (external link).
If you have an emergency, go the 'Accident and Emergency' department of your nearest hospital
If you cannot travel to hospital yourself, phone an ambulance (999). Ambulances are only for emergencies, not for general travel to hospital.
If you have a minor illness or injury you can visit Leigh Walk-in Centre - see Leigh Walk-In Centre website (external link). You do not need an appointment to go to the Walk-in centre.
NHS Direct is a telephone service that you can use to get advice if you are not sure how serious an illness or injury is. NHS Direct also provides interpreters if you need one. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
All emergency treatment at hospitals or at walk in centres is free for all people, including people visiting from overseas and those who have had their asylum application turned down
- In the UK, for all non-emergency health problems you should go to your doctor. It is important to register with a doctor as soon as you arrive here, so that you are ready in case you become ill. You will only be able to get an appointment to see a doctor if you are registered at their surgery (sometimes called 'practice' or 'clinic').
- If you are an asylum seeker you should be allocated a doctor by letter when you arrive. Your housing officer, if you have one, will help you to register with a family doctor or you can contact Support for Wigan Arrivals Project (SWAP) (external link) or Leigh Asylum and Refugee Support (LASARS) (external link) for help.
- There are also two help desks for anyone who needs help in registering with a doctor: these are at Leigh Library (see webpage for Leigh Library (external link)) and at Bryan House, Standishgate, Wigan (tel: 01942 482711).
- The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) can also help you to register with a doctor. Find out more on the PALS website (external link)
- Healthcare from a National Health Service (NHS) doctor is free for most people who are living in the UK and not just visiting for a holiday.
- When they have been registered with a doctor, all new patients will get a letter for a 'health check', or 'health screening'. It is important that you go to this appointment even if you are well. A nurse will check things like your blood pressure and your weight for your medical records.
- If you need to see a doctor when the surgery is closed (usually at night or at the weekend), telephone the surgery to hear a recorded telephone message. The message will give you the number for the 'out of hours' doctor. Call this number and the doctor will advise you, give you an appointment or visit you at home.
- You can also ring NHS direct: 0845 46 47 for advice and information.
- You need to make an appointment by phoning or visiting the surgery before you can see your doctor. You can ask to see a male or female doctor or nurse, although this may not always be possible.
- If you problem is urgent, you should tell this to the receptionist when you make the appointment, and you should be seen on the same day.
- If the doctor thinks you are too ill to come to the surgery, they may visit you at home.
- It is normal to have to wait for a few days for your appointment if you health problem is not urgent.
- Tell the receptionist that you need an interpreter when you are making the appointment. Say which language you speak and the receptionist will arrange for an interpreter for your appointment.
- The interpreter might come to the surgery or might speak to you on the phone when you are seeing the doctor.
- If you need medicine, your doctor will give you a prescription. Take the prescription to any chemist (pharmacist) store, and the chemist will prepare your medication for you.
- Certain people do not have to pay for medicines. If you are exempt you will need to pay a fixed price for each medicine, which is currently £7.20 for each item. For more information visit the NHS website (external link)
- If you do not have much money, you might be able to get an 'HC2' certificate so that you don't have to pay for medicines. To get an HC2, you need to fill in a form (HC1), which you can get from your GP surgery. Citizens Advice Bureau (external link), Support for Wigan Arrivals Project (external link)and Leigh Asylum and Refugee Support (external link) can usually help you to fill in the form.
- The HC2 certificate can also help you to get free eye tests, glasses and some other health items. The HC2 lasts for 6 months; after that you need to apply for another one.
An NHS dentist generally agrees with the local primary care trust (PCT) to provice NHS dental services for the local community. You can get free NHS dental treatment if you are under 18, pregnant or receiving certain benefits. There are other reasons why your treatment might be free - you can check this by visiting the NHS website (external link)
There are several other ways to look for an NHS dentist near you that is taking on patients:
- You can visit the NHS Choices wesbite (external link)
- Call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 (this may incur a charge)
- You can also text 'dentist' to NHS GO on 64746 - just make sure you send the text from the area in which you need a dentist (this will incur a charge)
- Or contact your local Primary Care Trust - you can find contact details for your local Primary Care Trust from NHS Choices.
In an emergency seek advise from :
- For emergency dental treatment, Monday to Friday 6.00 am to 8.00 pm at weekends and bank holidays call Dental Enquiries on: 0845 603 8504
- In cause of trauma, bleeding, breathing problems, go to the hospital accident and emergency department
- Most dentists do not use interpreters, so if you do not speak good English you will need to take someone who speaks English with you to see the dentist. Dentists will not treat you if you cannot give some information about your health in English.
You can see an optician about your eyes. They will check your eyes to see
- if there are any problems that mean you need treatment
- if you need anything to help you see better, like glasses or contact lenses
You qualify for a free sight test if you are under 16 or over 60, if you have certain illnesses or conditions and if you are receiving benefits. There are other reasons why your treatment might be free – you can check this by going to the NHS website (external link)or contact NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. To find an optician near you go to NHS website (external link)
Antenatal care is the care and help you receive from health professionals during the course of your pregnancy. As soon as you find out that you are pregnant you should get in touch with your doctor to get information on the services and support that are available and to organise antenatal care.
Antenatal appointments are check-ups to assess the health of you and your baby. They give the opportunity for you to find out more about the care on offer, and also to discuss any issues and questions you have. For more information go to the NHS Antenatal webpages (external link)
For women arriving from overseas who may need additional support contact the Homeless and Vulnerable Persons Service (external link) on 01942 775764
Medact has a resource pack and information on its Reaching Out project, which aims to improve access to maternity services for highly marginalised Black and minority ethnic women, including refugees, asylum seekers, women with little or no English and women with insecure immigration status. See the Medact website (external link).
Maternity Action has information sheets for women in the asylum system and migrant women: these give information about your rights to maternity care. See the Maternity Action website (external link).
- If you are not happy with services provided by your Doctor, Dentist, or Optician you can make a complaint. Contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).
- Complaints about doctors and dentists; 01942 482778.
- Complaints about hospital; 01942 822376.
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If you would like to know how to make your home more secure against fire, you can get a free safety check on your home from the Fire Service: call 01942 650103 (Wigan Fire Station) to arrange this.
For more information on fire safety you can also visit the Manchester Fire Service website (external link)
Safety when you are out
If someone comes to your front door claiming to be from an organisation, ALWAYS ask for identification. DO NOT let them into your house if you are not sure who they are or why they have come. If you are worried, call 999 and ask for the Police.
Make sure you lock your windows and doors at night and when you go out.
Always be aware of what is going on around you. If you feel unsafe, walk to the nearest well-lit place where there are other people, or go to the nearest police station. If you do not know where this is, phone 999 and ask for the police.
If someone shouts at you, threatens you, or attacks you because of who you are, the way you look, the way you dress, or because of your religion or ethnic group, this is called a hate crime.
Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Police take hate crime very seriously. Please try to report hate crimes if you see them happening, or if it happens to you, so that we can work to get rid of this problem.
There are many places where you can make a report about a hate crime: you do not have to go to the police. The police will only investigate a hate crime if the victim agrees to this.
For more information about how to report a hate crime, please see the Community Safety Partnership’s pages (external link) or call 01942 828111.
In an emergency if you wish to speak to the Police you may call 999.
Greater Manchester Police welcome you to Wigan, and hope your stay will be comfortable and safe.
The local police stations are:
- Wigan Police Station, Robin Park Road, Wigan, WN5 0UP
- Leigh Police Station, Chapel Street, Leigh, WN7 2PS
- Atherton Police Station, Flapper Fold Lane, Atherton, Manchester, M46 0HA
- Bamfurlong Police Station, Bryn Gates Lane, Bamfurlong, Wigan, WN2 5JY
The British Police Service aims to protect the public and to apply the law to those who break it. The law is applied fairly to all sections of the community.
The Police are here to help you. If you are a victim of crime or harassment report it to the Police or to someone who can inform the Police on your behalf. Any information given will be dealt with sensitively.
Domestic violence is any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate, partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.
For help and advice you can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0800 027 1234 or contact a local organisation. The Wigan Council website provides information on a number of organisations including:
The police in Wigan have a specialist unit to support victims of rape. If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault, you can report this at your local Police station and receive support from trained officers. For help and support you can contact Rape Crisis on 0808 802 9999
In an emergency you may call the Police on 999.
Victim Support & Witness Service
Victim Support & Witness Service Wigan helps Wigan residents cope with the effects of crime by providing confidential support and information to victims of crime and to witnesses attending local courts. Victim Support’s services are free, independent of the police and courts, and available to everyone, whether or not the crime has been reported and regardless of when it happened.
Phone 01942 322 033 to speak to the Wigan branch, or contact the national Victim support telephone supportline on 0845 30 30 900.
You can talk to Samaritans at any time of the day or night, about things like:
- Relationship and family problems
- The loss of a job, a friend or a family member through bereavement
- Financial worries
- Job-related stress or overwork
- College or study related stress
- Worries about your health or appearance
Volunteers offer support by telephone, emails and post or you can often drop in to a branch to have a face to face meeting. If you would like to talk to someone on the phone, call 08457 90 90 90 (this may incur a cost) for more information please visit the 'Samaritan Wigan' website (external link)
Young people who are worried about problems such as bullying, sexual and physical abuse, and breakdowns in family relationships can get support from a Childline counsellor. If you are a child or young person who needs help you can call the free 24-hour helpline on 0800 1111.
If you’re ever worried about a child’s safety or welfare, whatever the problem is, the NSPCC Helpline gives help, advice and support 24 hours a day: phone 0808 800 5000 (free from a landline and most mobile networks) or email firstname.lastname@example.org . For further information visit the NSPCC website (external link)
Adults who cannot protect themselves because of age, illness or disability, are vulnerable to abuse. By abuse we mean:
- hitting, slapping or pushing;
- shouting or swearing, which makes the person afraid;
- unwanted touching, kissing or sexual intercourse;
- money or property taken without permission or under pressure; and
- not being cared for properly or denied privacy, choice or social contact.
If you are worried about a vulnerable adult, please do not ignore it. You can phone any of the agencies listed on Wigan Council’s website (external link) - you don't have to give your name, but we may need to act on the information you give us and contact other relevant services.
In an emergency you may call the Police on 999.