Health in the UK
The first thing you need to do as soon as possible after arriving in the UK to live, is register with a GP (General Practitioner). You can register with a GP either in the Private sector or with the NHS. Some GP's work in both sectors, but the advantages of using a private GP are prompt appointments and more time for consultations. When you are feeling ill your first port of call will be your doctor. After the consultation your doctor may offer advice, prescribe a course of treatment or refer you to a specialist or hospital if necessary, at which point you also have the option to be treated privately or on the National Health Service (NHS).
The National Health Service
The State provides free healthcare which is funded by public money, paid as Income Tax and National Insurance contributions. Anyone who makes these payments is entitled to free healthcare on the NHS. Even if you have private medical insurance, you are entitled to use any of the services offered by the NHS. Click here to find out more about the NHS.
If you are not paying UK tax or National Insurance contributions, you may still be entitled to use the NHS, provided that you are deemed to be or intend to be ordinarily resident in the UK for a minimum of 6 months. Guidelines explaining who is entitled to free NHS treatment are available from the Department of Health.
If you are not entitled to free treatment you will be charged for using the NHS. These fees cannot be waived so it is strongly recommended that you consider private medical insurance.
If you have Private Medical Insurance you can choose from the private options available, provided that they are covered by your policy. Alternatively, you may decide to fund appointments or treatment yourself. The main advantage to private healthcare in the UK is the speed at which appointments and treatment are available compared to the NHS.
Accident and Emergency
Treatments provided in an A & E department are free for everyone until the patient is admitted to hospital; at which point the regulations regarding who is eligible to receive free treatment come into effect.
More information about A & E can be found in the NHS section. Click here for information about hospitals in the UK.
3.3 - v2.4