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Entitlement to NHS treatment

The NHS is the UK’s state health service which provides treatment for UK residents. Some services are free, other have to be paid for. The regulations that govern who can and can’t receive treatment are complex and may change.

A person who is regarded as ordinarily resident in the UK is eligible for free treatment by a GP. A person is ‘ordinarily resident’ if they’re lawfully living in the UK for a settled purpose, as part of the regular order of his or her life, for the time being. Anyone coming to live in this country would qualify as ordinarily resident. Overseas visitors to the UK are not regarded as ordinarily resident if they do not meet this description.

The following NHS treatment is available to anyone:

  • Treatment in an emergency (but not follow up treatment).
  • Treatment of certain communicable diseases.
  • Compulsory psychiatric treatment.

To qualify for other NHS treatments you must meet certain conditions which are outlined below

EU nationals

Some EU member states have reciprocal arrangements for both dental and medical health care so can access a wider range of NHS services.

Non EU nationals

Foreign nationals from non-EU countries have no automatic right to NHS healthcare (other than those outlined above). Students and visitors who are going to stay in the UK for less than 6 months would have to be seen as private patients and would have to pay for their treatment. It’s therefore essential that you have medical insurance to pay for any private treatment.

If you’re not a student registered at a UK university and you’re not going to stay in the UK for between six months and a year, it may be unlikely that you’ll be able to receive free NHS treatment.

If you are unsure if you’re entitled to NHS treatment, or require further information about this please ask at Reception.

A valid 6 month visa doesn’t automatically confer the right to free NHS treatment.

Registering with a GP doesn’t give you automatic entitlement to access free NHS hospital treatment. It’s therefore essential that you take out medical insurance for the full length of your visit, before you arrive in the UK.

If you’re a student registered at a UK University (and have documentary proof of this) and are going to stay in the UK for more than six months, then you’ll qualify for NHS treatment from the beginning of your stay and you (and your dependents) will be entitled to NHS treatment.

Medical emergencies

If you need immediate medical assistance (for example, because of an accident) telephone 999 – the call is free. You’ll be asked which emergency service you need (fire, police or ambulance).