General Practitioners (GPs) / Family Doctors

For medical advice and treatment, or prescriptions, you can make an appointment at your GP surgery, GPs (General Practitioners) are also known as family doctors.

GP surgeries vary in size and can have a wide range of staff including nurses, health visitors, district nurses, counselors, podiatrists and community psychiatric nurses.

GP surgeries run special clinics for people with diabetes, asthma and other health conditions. Ask your local surgery for an information leaflet about the services they provide.

Some GPs and medical practices have their own websites hosted on this site. Please visit our GP Website section to view these sites.

How to register with or change your GP

Everyone should be registered with a GP practice. If you are new to the area, you should register with a local GP as soon as possible. Ask at the reception desk of the GP practice for a registration form.

A list of GP practices can be found by consulting our GP finder.

If you wish to change your GP practice you can apply as above, or you can telephone 0131 537 8488 for advice.

If you have been removed from a GP’s list, and cannot get another doctor to accept you, please telephone 0131 537 8473.

Temporary residents may access GP services. If you are staying with a family who are registered, you may be able to attend their GP practice.

People who are homeless may access local GP services. Alternatively GP, nursing and mental health services are available at TAP (The Access Point), 17 Leith Street, Edinburgh and at the Cowgate Clinic, 20 Cowgate, Edinburgh. Advice regarding housing and social work services are also available at TAP.

Medical Cards

What is a Medical Card?

All patients that are registered with a GP Practice should hold a current Medical Card.

The Medical Card contains the following:

  • Your name, address and date of birth
  • The name and address of your GP Practice
  • Your Community Health Index (CHI) number
  • Your unique NHS number

Why do I require a Medical Card?

Medical Cards help your new GP Practice in transferring your medical records from your previous GP Practice.

What can I use my Medical Card for?

You can only use your Medical Card for when you register with a new GP Practice. It cannot be used as a form of Identification.

How do I obtain a Medical Card?

Contact the Practitioner Services (Medical) office for the NHS Board area that you live in. Contact details for the Edinburgh Regional Office can be found at

Community Health Index (CHI)

The CHI is a computerised database of patients within the NHS in Scotland.

It holds your name, address including postcode, date of birth, gender and details of your registered GP Practice including the date you joined the GP Practice. 

It also holds some historical data including your previous GP Practice. 

Each patient on the CHI has a unique 10 digit CHI number.  This number is used for communications within the NHS in Scotland and also to track your medical records.

Last Reviewed: 11/10/2016