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.

If you are unsure of entitlement to NHS treatment, any charges that may apply, or require further information, please ask the reception staff when you attend the Practice to register, and they will advise you accordingly.

Free Services

GP and nurse consultations in primary care, treatment provided by a GP and other primary care services are free of charge to all, whether registering as an NHS patient, or as a temporary patient, which is when the patient is in the area for more than 24 hours and less than 3 months.

For secondary care services, the UK’s healthcare system is a residence-based one, which means entitlement to free healthcare is based on living lawfully in the UK on a properly settled basis for the time being.

The measure of residence that the UK uses to determine entitlement to free NHS healthcare is known as ‘ordinary residence’. This requires non-EEA nationals subject to immigration control to also have the immigration status of indefinite leave to remain.

Individuals who are not ordinarily resident in the UK may be required to pay for their care when they are in England. However, some services and some individuals are exempt from payment.

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

Foreign nations from EU member states have reciprocal arrangements for both dental and medical health care so can access the full 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 is therefore essential that you have medical insurance to pay for any Private treatment.

If you are not a student registered at a UK university and your are not going to stay in the UK for between six months and a year, it may be unlikely that you will be able receive free NHS Treatment.

Be aware that a valid 6 month visa does not automatically confer the right to free NHS treatment.

Please note that registering with a GP does not give you automatic entitlement to access free NHS hospital treatment. It is therefore essential that you take out medical insurance for the duration of your visit prior to arrival in the UK.

If you are a student registered at a UK University (and you have documentary proof of this) and are going to stay in the UK for more than six months you will qualify for NHS treatment from the beginning of your stay and you (and your dependants) will be entitled to NHS treatment and you may register with a GP.

Medical emergencies

If you need immediate medical assistance (e.g. because of an accident) telephone 999. The call is free. An operator will ask you which emergency service you require (fire, police or ambulance). You will need to tell the emergency services what has happened and where you are. If someone is injured and needs to go to hospital an ambulance will arrive and take them to the nearest hospital with an emergency department.

If you need urgent treatment but are well enough to travel please make your own way to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department.

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