The NHS is the UK’s state health service which provides treatment for UK residents.
You are entitled to free NHS treatment if you are lawfully entitled to be in the UK and usually live here. This is called being ‘ordinarily resident’.
Some people from abroad who are not ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK can still receive NHS treatment free of charge. If you are entitled to free NHS treatment your family will also be eligible but only if they are living with you lawfully throughout your stay.
Your entitlement to free NHS treatment depends on the length and purpose of your stay in the UK not your nationality.
Click on the link for or more information on eligibility for NHS treatment.
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
- Family planning services
To qualify for other NHS treatments you must meet certain conditions which are outlined below:
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.
Be aware that a valid 6 month visa does not automatically confer the right to free NHS treatment and nor does registering with a GP.
It is therefore essential that you take out medical insurance for the duration of your visit prior to arrival in the UK.
In the event of a emergency 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 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.
See also our Out of Hours Emergency page.