Entitlement to NHS Treatment

The NHS is the UK’s state health service which provides treatment for UK residents. Some services are free, others 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’ for this purpose if 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

Foreign nations from EU member states have reciprocal arrangements for both dental and medical health care so they 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 six 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 you’re not going to stay in the UK for between six months and a year, it may be unlikely that you will be able to receive free NHS Treatment.

If you are unsure of entitlement to NHS treatment, or require further information, please ask the reception staff when you register, and they will advise you accordingly.

Be aware that a valid six 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 A&E department.