Welcome to our friends from Ukraine

We would like to extend the warmest welcome to you. On this page you will find a guide to your local health services in Suffolk and north east Essex.

Firstly, we are so sorry to hear about the tragic events in Ukraine and the impact it is having on you and your family and friends.

This pack is designed to help you establish yourselves in England – we hope you will find it useful. It also contains many useful hints and tips about using the National Health Service (NHS) in England. Please note, a lot of first contact is by phone or through the internet, so please speak to your host or local council to help you with this. This booklet covers all of the Suffolk and Colchester Borough Council and Tendring District Council areas of Essex.

How to access this guide

Your guide to health services is available in a variety of formats, including as HTML web text on this page. If you require the guide in a different format, please contact us via comms@snee.nhs.uk or by calling 01473 77 0000.

Translation services

If you need to speak to someone about an aspect of healthcare in Ukrainian or Russian, please call 111. Our colleagues in this service can arrange for you to speak to a translator who can assist you with your query. This is a free service.

Registering with a Doctor

General Practitioner (GP) – GPs are highly skilled doctors who are trained in all aspects of general medicine e.g. child health, adult medicine and mental health.

Practice nurses are qualified and registered nurses who usually run clinics for long-term conditions e.g. diabetes. Other healthcare professionals also work in a GP practice, for example pharmacists and physiotherapists. You can find out how to register with a GP surgery in the UK at: www.nhs.uk

To register with a GP, you will need to give your name, date of birth, address and telephone number if you have one. GP surgeries may ask to see proof of identity with your name and date of birth, but they cannot refuse to register you if these are not available.

Anyone in England can register with a GP surgery. It is free to register. You do not need proof of address or immigration status, ID or an NHS number. GP surgeries are usually the first contact if you have a health problem. They can treat many conditions and give health advice. They can also refer you to other NHS services.

If you have difficulties registering please contact our local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) on 0800 389 6819

After you have registered with your new GP you might be asked to have a health check. This will usually be carried out by a nurse. It is important that you go to this appointment even if you are well. If you move to a different part of the UK, you will need to register with a new GP. You can only be registered with one GP practice at a time. When attending appointments, it is acceptable to bring a friend or your host if this would be helpful to you.

How do I access medication from the pharmacy?

Your GP may want you to take medicines and will write you a prescription.

Take your prescription to your local pharmacy.

You can visit the NHS website to find your local pharmacy or ask for advice at your GP surgery.

The pharmacist can also give free advice on treating minor health problems, such as colds and coughs. You can buy some medicines from the pharmacy without a prescription, including some painkillers and cough medicines. You may be charged for prescription medicines. Some patients will already be on medicines but they will still need a prescription to get them.


If you’re suffering from a cold, cuts and grazes or minor illnesses, your pharmacist will offer you remedies so you don’t have to see a GP or nurse. Your local pharmacist is trained to help you with the safe use of prescription, repeat prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

Pharmacies are often open until late and at weekends, and many have a quiet area where you can talk to a pharmacist in private.


There are some services where you can ‘self-refer’, by contacting the provider directly.

The Musculoskeletal Service (MSK)

If you have joint, muscle or bone problems, with your back, hips, knees, ankles or hands, you can self-refer to the local musculoskeletal (MSK) service in Suffolk. They can diagnose and treat your condition with physiotherapy or may refer you to another specialist medical team.

Your GP can make a referral, or if you live in Suffolk you can self-refer by visiting www.ahpsuffolk.co.uk

Access to the service in north east Essex is by referral from the patient’s own GP . This service is provided by North East Essex Community Services.

Wellbeing Service

If you are aged over 18 and are not your usual self because you feel worried, anxious or depressed about certain issues in your life, you can contact your GP or local wellbeing service. Our local wellbeing services provide a range of free and confidential talking therapies and specialist support to help you to feel better.

Wellbeing Suffolk
0300 123 1503 – Phone lines are open Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) from 8am to 8pm.

Therapy for You – North East Essex
01206 334001 – Phone lines are open Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) from 9am to 5pm.

Self-help materials including tips, guides, tools and activities are also available online via the nhs.uk website.

Local GP Services

If your pharmacist cannot help, you can book an appointment with a healthcare professional at your GP practice.

When you contact the GP practice, you will be asked a number of questions to help direct you to the healthcare professional best suited for your health care needs.

GP practices provide many ways you can access their services including online consultations, telephone, video and face-to-face appointments.

NHS 111

You can call NHS111 for help with an urgent medical problem.

You can contact the NHS111 service online at www.111.nhs.uk or you can call 111, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your symptoms will be assessed and you will be provided with healthcare advice. This may include:

  • Self-care
  • Visiting a pharmacy
  • Contacting your GP practice
  • Contacting an urgent care centre
  • Going to a hospital accident and emergency department

If necessary, NHS111 can also send an ambulance, or book appointments for you with some services.

Local Urgent Care Services

If you are very unwell and have an illness or an injury that requires urgent attention, but it’s not an emergency (an emergency is when it is life-threatening), NHS 111 can make you an appointment at a local urgent treatment centre (UTC).

The urgent treatment centres are at:

Clacton Hospital

1 Tower Road
Clacton CO15 1LH
Open daily 8am – 8pm

Get directions to Clacton Hospital

Colchester Hospital

Turner Road
Colchester CO4 5JL
Open daily from 7am – midnight

Get directions to Colchester Hospital

Fryatt Hospital

Open daily from 9am – 5pm

This service can be accessed by contacting NHS 111. Get directions to Fryatt Hospital.

Urgent Care Centre, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Colney Lane
Norwich, Norfolk NR4 7UY
01603 286 286

Get directions to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Emergency Dental Issues

If you have an emergency dental issue, please don’t call your GP. Instead, please ring 111 who can help with an emergency dental number.

Bereavement support

If you or your family are struggling with grief after the death of a loved one, there are bereavement support services across Suffolk and north east Essex that can help.

All the organisations listed below provide bereavement support to adults and children. You can refer yourself or your family at their websites or over the phone.

St Helena – North and Mid Essex

01206 984 274

Living Grief Hub from St Elizabeth Hospice – East Suffolk

0300 303 5196

St Nicholas Hospice Care – West Suffolk

01284 766133

End of life care

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with a progressive or incurable illness, your local hospice can support you and your family. Hospices can provide support in your home, over the phone, or at your nearest hospice. Hospices work together with other services including your GP to help improve your quality of life and to ensure you receive the care and support you need as you approach the end of your life. Your GP can refer you to your local hospice.

Mental Health Crisis

If you are currently experiencing a mental health crisis or supporting someone in crisis and need urgent help, 24-hour support is available every day for adults, children or young people.

If you need urgent medical support, you can call 111 and select option 2. You can talk to Samaritans anytime on 116 123.

Talking Therapies

It is important that you seek support if you feel continually depressed or anxious. Please consider contacting the Talking Therapies services for support – 0300 123 1503 (for Wellbeing Suffolk, Monday to Friday 8 am to 8pm, excluding Bank Holidays) and 111, option 2 (for north east Essex).

Maternity care and services

Maternity services cover care from the beginning of pregnancy through to sign-off by a midwife. This is usually around 10 days after the birth but can be up to 6 weeks post-natally. Midwives ensure that personalised care is provided throughout pregnancy, childbirth and the post-natal period. Much of this care will be provided directly by midwives, who will also coordinate the provision of obstetric or other medical involvement if necessary.

Anyone settling in the UK should contact a GP or midwife as soon as they find out they’re pregnant. It’s important to see a midwife or GP as early as possible to get the pregnancy (antenatal) care and information you need to have a healthy pregnancy.

Referral into maternity services

You can find information on services at the West Suffolk, Ipswich and Colchester hospitals by downloading the FREE Mum and Baby app from the App Store or Google Play.

Self-referral into maternity services

Colchester – telephone 01206 742369
Ipswich – telephone 01473 702666
West Suffolk – telephone 01284 713755 (Community midwives (09.00-15.00))

For James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, please contact the ante-natal clinic on 01493 453892. The answerphone is regularly monitored between Monday and Friday.

If you require urgent or emergency maternity care, please refer to the delivery suite, labour ward or go to the Emergency Department at your nearest hospital.

Advice for Parents

If you feel that your child is unwell, or you are unable to care for them, seek medical help. This could be your local pharmacist, NHS111, GP, an urgent treatment centre (UTC) or A&E.

Care at home

If your child exhibits the following signs, care for them at home.

  • Your local pharmacist or NHS111 can give advice
  • Check www.nhs.uk
  • Consider paracetamol
  • Encourage rest and drinks, even if only in small amounts


  • Normal skin, lips and tongue colour
  • Responding normally/still smiling
  • Stays awake or wakes up easily
  • Normal cry or strong cry
  • Mild pain e.g. earache, tummy ache
  • Breathing/Chest
  • Breathing normally with no wheeze
  • Mild cough or runny nose without affecting breathing


  • Baby feeding/child drinking as normal or slightly reduced
  • Sick, but drinking and keeping most fluids down
  • Diarrhoea for less than 2 days
  • Passing urine, normal colour or slightly darker than usual


Mild temperature raised up to 38ºC (101º F) but controlled if paracetamol is given. Seek advice if temperature continues for 3-5 days.

Seek advice from your GP or NHS 111

If your child exhibits any of the following signs, seek advice from your GP or NHS 111.

  • Phone your GP for advice and decision – this may be by telephone/video or face to face
  • Call GP/NHS111 if concerned
  • If worried, always seek advice


  • Child becoming worse/parents more concerned
  • Less activity/more sleepy than usual
  • Change in normal behaviour/ not acting in usual manner
  • Irritable/no smile
  • Pain e.g. persistent severe earache, severe tummy ache – seek advice
  • Mild/moderate allergic reaction – seek advice


  • Noisy breathing/wheezy/fast breathing nasal ‘flaring’


  • Drinking less than half of usual amounts/vomiting most feeds
  • Less wet nappies than usual/less urine or darker concentrated urine
  • For babies under 1 year – sick more than 3 times in 24 hours, diarrhoea 6 times in 24 hours
  • For children 1 and over – diarrhoea for longer than 2 days


  • Over 3 months – temperature over 39ºC (102º F)
  • Persistent temperature for more than 3-5 days or not controlled by paracetamol – seek advice

Urgent help required

If your child exhibits the following signs, seek urgent help.

  • CALL 999 FOR BREATHING DIFFICULTIES OR A NON-BLANCHING RASH (rash that does not fade and lose colour under pressure – glass test)/COLLAPSE
  • Take your child to your nearest A&E department


  • Collapse/unresponsive
  • Hard to wake/floppy or listless
  • Mottled blue or ashen skin
  • Fitting (seizure) without a temperature
  • Severe allergic reaction/anaphylaxis
  • Rash that does NOT disappear under pressure (glass test)
  • Neck stiffness
  • High pitched, weak or continuous cry
  • Bile stained sick (green)
  • Bulging fontanelle (soft spot)


  • Severe difficulty in breathing
  • Grunting/very fast breathing/ sucking in and out between ribs
  • Breathless – unable to talk in sentences


  • Sunken fontanelle (soft spot)
  • Very little urine/dry nappies


  • 0-3 months – temperature over 38ºC (101º F)
  • Over 3 months – temperature over 39ºC (102º F) and/ or cold hands or feet
  • Any child with a temperature below 36ºC (97ºF)
  • Any child with a high temperature and fitting (seizure)

COVID-19 Vaccination

Anyone aged 5 or over is eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccination through the NHS. You do not need to be registered at a GP surgery or have an NHS
number to receive the vaccine.

Community pharmacies and other pop-up vaccination sites are available in your local area. For a complete list of local places across Suffolk and north east Essex where you can get the COVID-19 vaccination, please visit www.sneevaccine.org.uk. Please call the Suffolk and North East Essex COVID-19 helpline if you need to speak to someone about booking an appointment – 0344 257 3961.

Emergency Services – Ambulance and A&E

Emergency services should only be used for life-threatening illnesses or accidents which require immediate, intensive treatment. In an emergency you should ring the ambulance service (via 999) or go to the hospital’s Accident and Emergency (A&E) department.

If it’s not life-threatening or an emergency, please use the services available within this welcome pack.

Looking after yourself

  •  Look after your ears – don’t let them build up with wax. Speak to a pharmacist about earwax build-up. They can give advice and suggest treatments.
  • Protect yourself and others by keeping up to date with vaccinations such as COVID and flu vaccinations. More details about the COVID vaccinations can be found at www.sneevaccine.org.uk
  • Please ensure you give plenty of notice around repeat prescriptions. Little notification puts a strain on other services when they are contacted at short notice for repeat prescriptions.
  • If you’re invited for an NHS Health check or for an assessment with a long-term condition (such as asthma) that you may live with, please do attend.

Out of hours

The Out of Hours service is for urgent cases only and is available by contacting your GP surgery or by calling 111.

If your problem isn’t urgent, please contact your GP surgery when it is next open. This service operates Monday to Friday from 6.30pm to 8.00am and 24 hours at weekends and during bank holidays.

Drug and Alcohol treatment services

There are treatment services to support adults and young people affected by drug and alcohol misuse. Drug and Alcohol treatment services for adults and young people in Suffolk are provided by Turning Point in conjunction with Suffolk Family Carers and Iceni. Please call 0300 123 0872.

In north east Essex, care to substance misusers in the community is delivered by Open Road which offers access for anyone who would like advice, information, support, assessment and access to more formal treatment. They provide one-to-one support as well as support groups and advice. A Needle exchange service exists at its Colchester site where clients can come and discuss, confidentially, aspects of harm minimisation, and safe practice. Clients do not need appointments. Visit www.openroad.org.uk

Essex Alcohol Recovery Community provides support, advice and information around alcohol use for adults living in the county. Call 01376 316 126 or visit www.phoenix-futures.org.uk

Support for refugees

While those people coming to the UK from Ukraine are not refugees, there is support available to help people settle from Suffolk Refugee Support and Essex Refugee Action.

Both charities will provide support to those fleeing the conflict. They will help you gain access any local services you may need. Contact details are:

Suffolk Refugee Support

Telephone: 01473 400785;

Refugee Action – Colchester

Telephone: 01206 638454;

Health Outreach Service

Health Outreach service covers the east and west Suffolk areas, providing care and support in community settings, at hostels, on the street or in the home. The team provides primary care help and support to people who may find it difficult to navigate the Suffolk health system. Health Outreach service is made up of nurses, mental health nurses, social workers, support and advice staff, counsellors and trainers. They signpost people to appropriate services that suit their needs.

Members of the public can self-refer to this service by contacting the team via: Email: suffolk.smash@nhs.net or by telephone: 01473 341763.

Sexual health services

Integrated Contraception and Sexual Health (iCaSH) provides Suffolk’s specialist sexual health clinics. They offer a free, confidential service providing contraception, sexual health advice, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

This service offers:

  • Condoms
  • Contraception
  • Emergency contraception
  • HIV care
  • HIV testing
  • STI testing
  • Support and advice

All iCaSH clinics are self-referral, which means that a GP referral letter is not necessary. The service is free, confidential and non-judgemental.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the delivery of services has changed. All patients are asked to contact us on 0300 300 3030 in the first instance. You will then be offered either a telephone consultation or a face-to-face appointment as appropriate. Members of the public attending iCaSH in person are required to wear a face covering or mask.

Its number is 0300 300 3030/website is www.icash.nhs.uk

The service in Essex is provided by Essex Sexual Health Service which also provides a free, confidential, non-judgemental service regardless of sex, age, ethnic origin and sexual orientation. Access the service by calling 0300 003 1212 (open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm – closed bank holidays – and Saturday 8am to 1pm) or visiting: www.essexsexualhealthservice.org.uk

Staying healthy

There is much support to help you to stay fit and healthy. In Suffolk there is a network called Feel Good Suffolk which offers a variety of free services for people living in Suffolk to help create healthier, happier futures. They offer free services which include adult weight management, stop smoking support, help to get active, wellbeing walks, training and NHS health checks. Its website is https://feelgoodsuffolk.co.uk/ and the contact number is 01473 718193.

In Essex a similar service exists called the Essex Wellbeing Service. Delivered by a group of organisations, this service is for people living in Essex (excluding Southend- On-Sea and Thurrock) who are registered with a GP and are aged 16+. Through this service they can receive health and wellbeing support.

This includes help to quit smoking, social isolation support, weight management, or help with day-to-day needs. More information is available on the website www.essexwellbeingservice.co.uk or by calling 0300 303 9988.

Active Suffolk and Active Essex

Active Suffolk and Active Essex are two partnerships in England that work with local partners to ensure the power of physical activity and sport can transform lives. Both aim to improve everyone’s health and wellbeing. The partnerships do this by continuing to strengthen communities, by providing tools to enable our young to have the best and most healthy start to life, by creating attractive local spaces and places to encourage people to be active, and ensuring that good physical and mental wellbeing can be accessed by everyone.

Active Essex – www.activeessex.org
Active Suffolk – www.activesuffolk.org

Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS)

If you are struggling to access services, please call one of our system’s PALS teams. East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation NHS Trust – Freephone number 0800 328 7624 (for all hospital related services only) West Suffolk Foundation Trust – 01284 712555

NHS Suffolk and North East Essex ICB PALS – 0800 389 6819.

James Paget University Hospital, (Great Yarmouth and Waveney) – The PALS and Complaints Team are available from 9:00 – 17:00, Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays). Telephone: 01493 453240.

Norfolk and Waveney ICB – Complaints team: Telephone: 01603 595857.

Ipswich Hospital, Heath Road, Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 5PD. Tel: 01473 712 233

West Suffolk Hospital, Hardwick Lane, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk IP33 2QZ. Tel: 01284 712555

Colchester Hospital, Turner Road, Colchester, Essex CO4 5JL

James Paget University Hospital, Lowestoft Road, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk NR31 6LA. Tel: 01493 452452

Page last modified: 29 April 2024
Next review due: 29 October 2024