Choosing the Appropriate Medical Service
If you are suffering with a serious medical problem or have sustained a serious injury, you may need to visit your nearest hospital emergency department.
Please think about whether your problem could be better treated using one of the other options within this section before you attend the emergency department. You may experience a long wait at the department as patients will be prioritised on the seriousness of their condition.
Please note that arriving by ambulance does not mean you will be seen any quicker - patients arriving by ambulance are prioritised alongside all other patients
If you are feeling unwell of have suffered an injury, please take a look at the health services available to help you find the right one.
Visiting the UK? You may be charged for NHS treatment
Whilst you can register with the GP practice as an NHS patient and see the GP without charge, you should be aware that not every person is entitled to their NHS care free of charge in England.
Generally, NHS care is free of charge for those:
- Ordinarily resident in the UK
- Insured by an EEA member state, eg with a valid EHIC or S1 form
- Covered under the immigration Health Charge ("Surcharge")
- exempt in law - eg refugees or victims of slavery
Some services are always free to all people, eg the diagnosis and treatment of most infectious diseases
Ordinarily resident means, broadly speaking, living in the UK on a lawful and property settled basis for the time being. You will be asked to provide this.
If you are a citizen of the European Economic Area (EAA) or Switzerland, you can become ordinarily resident when you move to England, as long as you meet the criteria above.
If you are a non-EAA national subject to immigration control, you can only be considered ordinarily resident if you have been given the immigration status of 'indefinite leave to remain' (the right to live here on a permanent basis).
However, if you are a family member of an EAA national who is resident in the UK, you may not be subject to immigration control, even though you yourself are from outside the EEA.
For more information about applying to join family living permanently in the UK, visit www.gov.uk
If you are not ordinarily resident in the UK then you are classed as an overseas visitor and will have to pay for most treatment outside the GP practice unless exempt.
What we may do with the information about chargeable status
You may provide information about your chargeable statues at various points within the NHS, including registering with this GP practice. This information is stored on the NHS database, and shared with trained administrators, so that your chargeable status can be confirmed as soon as possible.
We may need to check your immigration status with the Home Office. We may need to share EHIC, Provisional Replacement Certificates and S1 form details with the Department for Work and Pensions and your home country (EEA only). We may also need to share some information more widely to prevent crime, including fraud.
Further sources of information or advice
- 'Visting or moving to England'
- 'Your health and care records'
- 'Help with health costs'
- 'Paying NHS charges'
- 'Guidance on overseas visitors'
Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) at your local hospital
- Your local Citizens Advice Bureau
Which overseas visitors are exempt?
Refugees, asylum seekers and some categories of failed asylum seekers
- Victims of modern slavery
- Children looked after by the local authority
- People covered under reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK
- Armed forces members and some crown servants
For a full list, see 'visiting or moving to England' on www.nhs.uk
From EEA and visiting, studying or retiring to the UK?
Please provide details on the GP registration form of your valid, non-UK European Health Insurance Card (for visitors and students) or provide your 'S1' form (for pensioners, some workers). This will ensure that your home country funds the healthcare that may be necessary during your stay, so that you will not be asked to pay. If you are a visitor/student needing planned care, you will need an 'S2' form from your home country.
From outside EAA and here to reside in or visit the UK?
If you have been granted leave to enter or remain in the UK for a temporary period of more than six months, and have paid (or have been exempted from paying) the Immigration Health Charge (also known as the 'Surcharge'), or you believe that another exemption from charge category applies to you, please indicate this on the GP registration form. Please take documents with you to any hospital appointment to confirm your identity and any exemption you may have.
www.nhs.uk - 'categories of exemption'
The rules can be complicated and this is only a brief summary, so please visit www.nhs.net for further information or ask for help and advice from your local hospital overseas visitor team before seeking treatment at a hospital, if possible.
Charges for some NHS services
Bear in mind that even if you are ordinarily resident here or are generally exempt from charge for your NHS care, some NHS services are not free, eg prescriptions and dentistry. You may also be exempt from these charges, under separate criteria www.nhs.uk - 'Help with health costs'
What NHS services can i receive for free?
Even if you are generally chargeable, you can still receive the following services free:
- Seeing your GP or practice nurse for any reason
- Being tested for most suspected infectious diseases and treated for them of the test is positive
- Family planning services (contraception)
- Treatment for sexually transmitted infection
- Treatment given at an Accident and Emergency unit (but not once admitted to hospital)
- Treatment of a condition caused by FGM, torture, sexual or domestic violence (unless you have come to the UK to see this care)
Paying for treatment
For other services, unless excmpt, you will be expected to pay in advance for treatment, unless this would delay treatment needed urgently or immediately, in which case you will expected to pay afterwards.
What if I need to go to hospital?
If your GP refers you to hospital for further treatment then you should expect to provide documents that demonstrate your are an ordinarily resident, or exempt from charge, otherwise you will have to pay. In an emergency, you should call an ambulance or go directly go to your nearest A&E department where you will receive immediate treatment to stabilize your condition. However, unless exempt, charges will apply if you are admitted to hospital.
Unless exempt, you will have to pay for any treatment related to your pregnancy but treatment will not be withheld or delayed because of payment. Ensure you speak to your midwife about your care.
If you need immigration permission to be in the UK and fail to pay an outsanding amount due to the NHS, then your non-medical details and details of the debt, may be shared with the Home Office, who may decline any further visa applications until the amount is paid.
Source NHS England - June 2017