Are you visiting the UK and think you may need to see a doctor? The National Health Service (NHS) offers many healthcare services in the UK for people visiting from abroad, some of which are free and others you may have to pay for.
If you are in the UK at the moment and need to see a healthcare professional, or you are planning a trip to the UK and you want to know how to access healthcare if needed, then the below guide will tell you everything you need to know.
Read on to discover:
• Do I have to pay for NHS treatment when visiting the UK?
• What healthcare services are free to non-residents in the UK?
• How to access healthcare when visiting the UK
• How to make an appointment with a doctor when in the UK
• Can I get a new prescription when visiting the UK?
Do I Have to Pay for NHS Treatment When Visiting the UK?
While anyone can receive treatment from an NHS facility when visiting the UK, tourist visitors do not normally qualify for free NHS treatment. More specifically, any treatment beyond emergency care will most likely incur a fee.
To make sure that you can afford any healthcare you require when visiting the UK, make sure you get travel insurance that comes with comprehensive medical coverage. Before traveling, always check your travel insurance plan to ensure it covers hospitalizations as well as medical evacuation back to the United States.
What Healthcare Services are Free to Non-Residents in the UK?
There are certain services and treatments that are carried out in NHS hospitals that are free to everyone, even those who are not a resident of the UK. These are as follows:
• A&E services
• Family planning services (not abortions or infertility treatment)
• Treatment for most infectious diseases, including sexually transmitted infections
• Treatment required for a physical or mental condition caused by trauma or sexual violence
There are also certain groups that are exempt from paying for healthcare services in the UK, including vulnerable patients, detainees, workers on ships, and NATO personnel. You can find the full list of groups that have access to free NHS treatments in the UK here.
How to Access Healthcare When Visiting the UK
If you need urgent medical care when visiting the UK, then you can visit your nearest A&E unit, where you will be given free NHS care. You can also call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk.
If your health concern is not a medical emergency, then you will most likely have to pay for any treatment you need. You can also choose to seek medical care on a private basis, which will be quicker but more expensive.
You may also want to use the NHS 111 service, which provides help and advice for non-life-threatening health issues. This can be accessed via the phone or by visiting NHS 111 online to get help with specific symptoms.
Alternatively, if you have a non-urgent or minor health problem, you can visit your nearest pharmacy for advice and to buy over-the-counter treatments.
How to Make an Appointment With a Doctor When in the UK
If you are visiting the UK and need to see a doctor, you can do so without being registered to a GP practice. You can find your nearest GP practice via the NHS website, or you can book a private GP appointment here today. You can also just walk into the nearest GP practice, but make sure that you take your identification with you, such as your passport and visa, and any relevant insurance documents.
You can receive emergency treatment for up to 14 days as a visitor to the UK, but if your treatment lasts longer than this, you will need to register as a temporary resident. This can be done at any GP surgery in the UK.
Can I Get a New Prescription When in the UK?
Yes, you can. If your prescription runs out whilst you are still visiting the UK, you should seek the assistance of a medical practitioner who will be able to issue you a new one. It is worth knowing that there is a charge for prescriptions in the UK, so you will have to pay a small fee to get your medication.
If you visit a GP surgery to request a new prescription, you may have to register as a temporary resident before you are permitted to see a doctor.