Universal Health Services

Doctor with little boy

Cambridgeshire has a wide range of health services for children and young people including GPs, pharmacists, dentists, opticians, and hospital services. These services are known as ‘universal’ because they are available to everyone. To find your nearest service go to NHS Choices and enter your postcode.

If you have concerns or questions about your child’s health the first person you talk to is your GP, health visitor, school nurse for medical services, or your dentist for dental services.

These are our universal health services that anyone can access and you do not need a referral.

Building a relationship with universal health services is important from the moment your child is born and throughout their development.

You can find also information on Specialist Health Services and Common Health Concerns pages.

GP Services

What is a GP?

A GP is the doctor that a person sees for general health concerns. The GP can refer someone on to more specialist services where needed and can advise about general health concerns.

Information on how to register to a GP can be found here. It is free and anyone in England can register.


What is a dentist?

A healthy mouth is important for overall health and wellbeing. Good oral (mouth) hygiene (care) can affect your child’s ability to eat, sleep, talk, and play. Identifying health problems and treating them early enables children and young people to continue to lead fulfilling lives and feel good about themselves.

Free dental care is entitled to anyone under the age of 18. There is no need to register with a dentist in the same way as with a GP because you are not bound to a catchment area.

Simply find a dental practice that is convenient for you, whether it is near your home or work, and phone them to see if there are any appointments available. More information on how to find a dentist in your area can be found here.

For children and young people with a learning disability, autism, or both, there may be extra challenges such as sensory issues around having their teeth brushed, or the texture of toothpaste. Some children and young people may be unable to describe tooth pain.

Contact have created a parent’s guide to oral health and dental care for children with a learning disability, autism, or both.

Some dentists may be able to treat children and young people with special needs in their surgery. However, some people may not be able to access their dental practice because of a disability or medication condition. In this case, the dentist should refer the patient to a more specialised dental service.

NHS 111

What NHS 111 does

NHS 111 can help if you or someone you look after has an urgent medical problem and you are not sure what to do. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

They can advise of the next best steps and will ask questions about you or your child’s symptoms, so you get the help you need. For example; going to A&E (NHS 111 will book an arrival time for you so you spend less time in A&E) or going to an urgent care centre or minor injuries units for less severe injuries.

You can access this service by calling 111 or visiting 111.nhs.UK (for people aged 5 and over only).

If you are Deaf and want to use the phone service, you can use the NHS 111 British Sign Language service

Minor Injury Unit and Urgent Treatment Centres

Minor Injury Units (MIUs) and Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) offer treatment and advice on illnesses and injuries that need attention urgently but are not critical or life-threatening.

If you think you need urgent medical support please think 111 first. 111 can access your symptoms and if appropriate can book you in to be seen quickly and safely. This could be with a GP, at the UTC or MIU or even A&E. Go online to www.111.nhs.uk or call 111.

Find out locations of MIUs and UTCs on Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care System website.

Healthy Child Programme (Health Visiting and School Nursing)

About the Healthy Child Programme

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Health Visiting (0 – 5 years old) and School Nursing Service (5 – 19 years old) are part of the 0-19 Healthy Child Programme. The programme is designed to support parents and carers to help their child to reach their full potential.

Professionals and families can access the service by calling 0300 029 50 50 or texting 07520 649 887. More information about the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Healthy Child Programme can be found here.

Health Visiting 0 – 5 Service

Health Visitors are trained Nurses or Midwives, who have undertaken extra training to become qualified health visitors. They work as a team to offer friendly support and advice, and they work closely with GP’s, midwives, school nurses, and the wider local community. This enables them to assess and support to improve the health and wellbeing needs of children and families in the crucial first years of life.

The service is universal to all children and families. Health Visitors signpost services and resources and work with parents/carers to support parenting and to help build on existing family strengths.

The first appointment with them enables them to get to know the parents/carers and the family. The hospital will let them know when the baby is born and should give the parents/carers a copy of the personal child health record (also known as the red book).

The red book has lots of useful information inside you may want to look at before your first appointment with your Midwife and Health Visitor following discharge. Following the birth of your baby, you will receive a letter with details of an appointment which will be arranged within the first two weeks of life and a further appointment from six weeks of age.

The Health Visiting team can offer a variety of support around the following topics:

  • Becoming a parent or carer – this may include exploring what friend and family support parents/carers have to help them in the early days
  • Feeding and healthy lifestyles – including support around feeding choices and introducing family foods when the baby is six months old
  • They can provide support if parents/carers are feeling low in mood, anxious, or if there are any worries about bonding and building a relationship with the baby
  • Keeping the parents/carers and the baby safe which could include exploring healthy relationships and maintaining a safe environment in the home. · Sleep and behaviour – for example supporting parents/carers with safe sleep guidance and coping with an unsettled and crying baby
  • Immunisation advice, minor illnesses, any child development worries, or any other questions parents/carers may have around their and the child’s wellbeing up until the age the child goes to school
  • They also offer routine development reviews around 1 year of age, and between 2 and 2 and a half years old.

School Nursing Service 5 – 19

School Nursing teams are led by qualified Nurses who have undertaken further training to qualify for this specialist role. Each team covers a group of schools in a geographical area.

School nurses are not based in individual schools but do run confidential health clinics in some secondary schools within the city.

The School Nurse plays a key role in health promotion and works to address public health concerns e.g., reducing teenage pregnancy, reducing childhood obesity and issues relating to drug, smoking and alcohol abuse.

The School Nurse is pleased to give advice to parents and/or your children about any health concerns they may have – e.g., sleeping, behaviour, allergic reactions, bedwetting, to name but a few.

Find out more on the Healthy Child Programme website

Family Nurse Partnership

What is the ‘Family Nurse Partnership’?

The Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) programme is a home visiting programme for first-time Mothers aged 19 years and under, who live in Cambridgeshire.

The programme works with the strengths of the young person and encourages young parents to fulfil their aspirations for their baby and themselves. Your specially trained family nurse will help you understand all about your pregnancy and how to care for yourself and your baby.

They will visit you regularly during your pregnancy and then after the birth until your baby is one year old, with the possibility of continuing until your child is 2 years old. The visits do not replace midwifery care but do deliver most of the Healthy Child Programme.

The nurses use programme guidelines, materials, and practical activities to work with the mother, as well as the father and wider family, on understanding their baby, making changes to their behaviour, developing emotionally, and building positive relationships. Interpretation and translation services can be arranged by staff, for users of this service.

Sight Checks and Glasses

Eyesight check

All children will get their eyesight checked as part of the free NHS checks at different ages including when they start school. - these are intended to ensure children don't slip through with unnoticed sight issues. But you don't need to wait for those - if you are worried you can get a free check done.

Getting a professional (optician/ optometrist/ophthalmologist) to look at your child's sight and check what they can and can't see is easy and free. And the professionals can do sight tests even on children who can't yet read or don't know their alphabet - they get a different test that works for their age. And it even works if they have difficulties talking, following instructions, or concentrating.

Book an appointment with your high street optician. For children with exceptional needs, Local opticians will usually have specially trained staff who can advise whether they can do a test given your child's needs - they should be able to meet the needs of most children and babies. If they cannot meet your child's needs, request a referral from your GP or the optician to a specialist service at the hospital.

Accident and Emergency Departments

What is an Accident and Emergency Department?

An Accident and Emergency (A&E) department (also known as emergency department or casualty) deals with genuine life-threatening emergencies, such as:

  • loss of consciousness
  • acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
  • chest pain
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • severe allergic reactions
  • severe burns or scalds
  • stroke
  • major trauma such as a road traffic accident

Find out where your nearest A&E is on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care System website.

Accident and Emergency Departments

What is an Accident and Emergency Department?

An Accident and Emergency (A&E) department (also known as emergency department or casualty) deals with genuine life-threatening emergencies, such as:

  • loss of consciousness
  • acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
  • chest pain
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped
  • severe allergic reactions
  • severe burns or scalds
  • stroke
  • major trauma such as a road traffic accident

Find out where your nearest A&E is on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Integrated Care System website.


What are Prescriptions?

Prescriptions will be free until a young person becomes 16 (or 18 if they are in full-time education). If you receive Universal Credit, this is extended to 20. They will continue to receive free prescriptions as an adult if they have the following medical conditions:

  • A permanent fistula (for example, a caecostomy, colostomy, laryngostomy or ileostomy) requiring continuous surgical dressing or requiring an appliance
  • a form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison's disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential
  • diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism ▹ diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Myxoedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement)
  • Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy
  • A continuing physical disability means the person can't go out without the help of another person
  • Undergoing treatment for cancer, including the effects of cancer/treatments
Healthy You

Looking to make a lifestyle change?

Healthy You are a free service for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough residents who are looking to make changes to their lifestyle.

Whether you want help to quit smoking, lead a more active lifestyle, lose some weight, or simply take advantage of the NHS Health Checks they offer, Everyone Health – alongside Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council – can help you.

Services include:

  • Adult weight management
  • Health trainer
  • Health checks
  • National child measurement programme
  • Alive and kicking

Find out more here.

Tel: 0333 005 0093

email: eh.healthyyou@nhs.net

Related Pages

  1. Health
  2. SEND Health Services Overview
  3. Specialist Health Services
  4. Common Health Concerns
  5. A to Z of Health Services


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