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At birth you are issued with your own medical card and NHS number. You will also be registered with a doctor (general practitioner or GP) by your parents or guardian until you turn 16 years old.

Your parents or guardians will only be consulted about your health if your doctor feels you are incapable of making your own decisions or with your permission.

Once you are 16, you can choose your own doctor, although most people stay with their family doctor. Make sure you get the emergency or out-of-hours line number for your doctor once you’ve registered.

Always go to your doctor first unless it is a real emergency. They can give you the best advice for you and refer you to a hospital or a specialist if necessary.

Since April 2007 everyone in Wales is now entitled to a free prescription. You can visit any chemist or pharmacist who will be able to give you your prescription.

You are free to change doctors at any point and your medical records will automatically be transferred to your new doctor when you register.

Doctors are there to help you get better so don’t be afraid to talk to them honestly. Everything you say is confidential.

If you feel that you need urgent treatment when your GP surgery is closed, you can call NHS Direct Wales on 0845 4647 (24 hours a day, seven days a week) for medical advice. Telephone consultations and triage (an assessment of how urgent your medical problem is) are an important part of all out-of-hours care. They will take all your details including your condition, then have a professional who is on call get back to you.

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