Which overseas visitors can access the National Health Service (NHS) in England?

21 Mar 2024, 02 mins ago

This blog delves into the different types of care that overseas visitors can access under the UK National Health Service (NHS).

Whether you are in the UK for leisure or short-term business pursuits, if you are staying temporarily for up to six months, you fall into the category of a “visitor.” Being a genuine visitor is key, essentially meaning that you are not intending to make the UK your home.

Primary care services, such as making appointments with General Practitioners (GPs) and receiving emergency care, are accessible to all visitors, free of charge. Even tourists are covered, should they require these medical services.

When it comes to secondary care, such as specialist treatment or hospital stays, the situation becomes more tricky. If you are an ordinarily resident in the UK, you can access secondary care for free. However, visitors to the UK will need to brace their wallets, as this type of care comes with a price tag for temporary guests. It is therefore always recommended for visitors to the UK to sort out their travel or health insurance prior to their arrival.

Refugees, asylum seekers and victims of modern slavery or trafficking are among those exempt from secondary care charges. Other exempted individuals include NATO personnel who cannot receive medical care from armed forces medical services.

For EU visitors holding a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), access to medically necessary healthcare services, including secondary care, is maintained. However, it is important to note that the EHIC may not cover all healthcare expenses. Failure to provide an EHIC card, a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) or an S2 form may result in charges at 150% of the national NHS rates. Additionally, visitors from Norway are entitled to medically necessary healthcare, including secondary care, upon presenting a valid Norwegian passport. To summarise, it is advisable for all visitors to stay informed about the types of NHS care that they are eligible for during their stay in the UK.

How Gherson can assist

Gherson’s Immigration Team are highly experienced in advising on UK visa matters. If you have any questions arising from this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail, or, alternatively, follow us on XFacebookInstagram, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

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