At one time, the National Health Service issued physical cards to identify those who are registered with a general practitioner and who are entitled to use the benefits of the NHS in the United Kingdom. When you visit a general practitioner for the first time, you'll be issued a letter confirming your NHS number, though. If you've lost that piece of paper, you may not know how to find your number if you need it. If you have an NHS card, it will no longer be valid, but you may have been issued a new number at some point.
If you have lost your official NHS card, you can still receive health care as needed. Your first step should be to consult with your GP in order to retrieve your NHS medical card number.
What Is the NHS Number?
Until 1996, the NHS identifier came on a card and was a combination of letters and numbers. However, the new system involves 10 numbers and no letters. This is not the same number as your National Health Insurance number, which you use for tax, benefits and pensions. A 10-digit identifier is a more reliable way to track patients than using a date of birth or name, since it ensures you aren't misidentified when your practitioner attempts to pull your medical records.
New Patient Intake
If you've never been issued an NHS number, you won't need one to visit a GP. You'll be issued a number after your visit. Save this documentation in case you need it in the future, but you won't have to carry it around with you. If you've recently moved to the area, you will not be registered until the first time you visit a GP.
Search Your Records
If you don't have the original letter you were issued, take a look through your old files. It will likely be on other medical correspondence, such as prescriptions, test results and appointment confirmations. This may be something you filed with your paperwork, but check your email and any online medical portals you use to see if the information is available there.
Contact Your GP
If you've forgotten your NHS medical card number, your general practitioner will be your best resource. The office should be able to give you your number. If you're visiting a GP you've visited before, they should already have you in the system. However, in some cases, usually for security reasons, you may be asked to provide identification to prove you are the person whose number you are requesting. A passport, driving license or some other form of ID will likely suffice.
Gwen Wark is a freelance writer working from London, Dublin, and New York. She has been a published writer since 1998 with works appearing in both university and local publications. Her current writing projects include SEO, web copy, print and advertising features. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in history from Rutgers University.