Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs

How can I find my nearest GP, dentist, pharmacist or other health service?

Use the search box on the NHS Choices website here.

If you have a smartphone, you can also download an app called My Local NHS from the App Store for iPhones.

A Polish version of the app is also available, called Mój lokalny NHS (Reading) from the App Store for iPhones.

If you cannot access the Internet, call Healthwatch Reading on 0118 937 2295 for help.

How do I join a GP practice if I am new to the area or want to change surgeries?

Contact the practice you would like to join to see if they are taking new patients and whether you live in the area they cover. More information is available here or telephone Healthwatch Reading on 0118 937 2295.

Where can I go for urgent medical advice or treatment?


If your GP surgery is closed or you are unsure whether you need urgent care or treatment, you can telephone the NHS helpline, 111. The 111 call handlers may:

  • give you self-help advice over the phone;
  • get a doctor from the GP out-of-hours service, WestCall, to contact you, or ask you to attend the WestCall clinic, based at the Royal Berkshire Hospital;
  • advise you to go the emergency department at Royal Berkshire Hospital;
  • or they may send an ambulance to you.


Telephone 999 for life threatening emergencies, such as a heart attack, severe loss of blood, difficulty breathing, or a serious accident. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired, you can text 999, but you must first register your mobile phone on the emergency SMS website. More information is here on the South Central Ambulance Service website.

Reading Walk-In Health Centre

You can walk in off the street to see a GP or nurse if:

  • your normal GP practice is closed or does not have an appointment available
  • the centre is closer to your work than your normal GP practice
  • you need minor injury treatment
  • you are a visitor to Reading needing health care
  • you have not yet registered with a GP in Reading.

The centre is upstairs in the Broad Street Mall in Reading town centre.

It is open 8am-8pm every day, including weekends and bank holidays. More information can be found here or telephone the centre on 0118 902 8300.

Emergency department at Royal Berkshire Hospital

The main accident and emergency department for adults is at the Royal Berkshire Hospital on Craven Road, RG1 5AN.

A separate children’s emergency department is next door, also on Craven Road.

Where can I get help for myself or a relative or friend who is having a mental health crisis?

A mental health crisis service runs in Reading 24 hours a day, staffed by nurses, social workers and support workers. They may visit people in their own homes, or offer telephone support.

People new to the service should call 0300 365 0300. Existing service users can call 0300 365 99 99. More information can be found on the Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust website here.

What should I do if I believe a relative or friend is trying to carry out a suicide?

Call 999 and ask for an ambulance, and also police if you think the person will not, or cannot, let people into the property they are in.

How can I get help for myself or a relative who has become unable to get around without help, or do things for themselves like getting dressed?

Social care and support can be arranged for people by Reading Borough Council. This might include home care workers visiting regularly, special equipment in the home, assisted transport such as Readibus, and more. People may have to pay for some of this care, after being assessed by a social worker.

There is a single council helpline to call for all queries on adult social care: 0118 937 37 47.

The council has also published a guide to local adult, family and youth services here.

How can I find a good nursing or residential care home for myself or a relative?

A list of care homes is available on the Reading Borough Council website here.

If the council is partly funding your care home place you can ask your social worker to help you find the best home for your needs.

All care homes are inspected by the Care Quality Commission and ratings are published on its website. Telephone Healthwatch Reading on 0118 937 2295 if you need help finding this information.

How can I find local charities that can provide advice and/or support?

A full list of all voluntary organisations in Reading is available from Reading Voluntary Action here.

How can I find out about Reading health and social care policies, plans and decision making?

Decisions about how to spend most of Reading’s NHS budget are made by North and West Reading Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and South Reading CCG.

The groups are made up of local doctors, nurses and patient representatives.

The public can attend governing meetings the CCGs regularly hold. You can find meeting dates on their websites (South Reading and North & West Reading) or in our events section on our website here.

Big decisions about social care are considered by Reading Borough Council’s adult social care, children’s service and education committee, also known as ‘ACE’. The public can attend meetings. Find out more here.

Reading also has a Health and Wellbeing Board made up of GPs, councillors, and a Healthwatch Reading representative, who oversee plans to improve health and wellbeing in Reading. The board holds its meetings in public and more can be found out here.