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Health Services

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Guidance for non UK residents requiring treatment from a Welsh NHS Trust.
The National Health Service (NHS) Direct telephone helpline - 0845 46 47 - is available 24 hours a day to everyone in Wales with access to a telephone.

In health, there is a continual need to improve and update services.

Reform of the NHS in Wales is one aspect of the Welsh Government’s work to create a world-class health service.  

The Welsh Government’s Health and Social Services Directorate funds, directs  and monitors the performance of  health services in Wales. It works in partnership with National Health Service (NHS) organisations such as the seven area health boards and the three specialist trusts.

Health services are usually categorised into primary care, secondary care and tertiary care.

Primary care services

Primary care services are provided by family doctors (also known as general practitioners or GPs), opticians, dentists, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals.

There are more than 1,900 family doctors in Wales, more than 1,000 dentists, and some 600 opticians. Family doctors are the first point of call, referring people to hospitals or specialist treatment when necessary.

Other healthcare staff working in the community include:

  • specialist community public health nursing;
  • midwives;
  • community nurses;
  • physiotherapists;
  • occupational and speech therapists; and
  • practice nurses.

Secondary care

Secondary care refers to hospitals and ambulance services. These are provided by seven local health boards, a national Ambulance Service Trust and a specialist cancer trust.

Tertiary care

Tertiary care refers to specialised care provided at some of the larger hospitals or through specialist hospitals treating particular types of illness such as cancer.

Community care

In addition to the above, community care services are provided in partnership with local social services.  Community care services are usually defined as those services which are provided to patients in their own homes.

They include a range of primary care services provided by nurses, midwives, health visitors and services from other professionals such as occupational therapists.