The healthcare system in the United Kingdom
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Updated 5 months ago

The United Kingdom's healthcare system is referred to as the NHS (National Health Service). The NHS covers all healthcare-related costs for all persons residing in the country, and in every 36 hours, they deal with one million patients.  

The healthcare system

The NHS also covers expatriates having a valid visa issued for a minimum of six months. Their dependents (spouse and children) are also eligible for NHS services.

The UK can also boast private healthcare insurance providers like Bupa. Their services come at a premium charge, but they offer quicker referrals and a more comprehensive one-to-one treatment. If you have landed a job in the UK, you can easily get private health insurance as part of your employment package.

NHS Health Card

EU citizens are covered in the UK through their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Health-related costs are charged following the same terms and conditions given to British nationals.

If you don't have the EHIC, you may need to contact your national healthcare service so as to obtain an EHIC card before coming to the UK.

Warning:

When Brexit will be officially in effect, conditions relating to the European Health information may change in the United Kingdom.

Expatriates coming from outside the EU will require an NHS number to benefit from healthcare services. To get this number and the NHS card, you will have to visit the nearest local health centre and fill the application form available at the reception desk. Upon completing this step, your personal NHS number will be sent to you by post within a few days.

You can then register with a General Practitioner. The general practitioner is the referring Doctor you need to meet in order to get appropriate but not emergency treatments, or before applying to see a specialist. You can find a local GP online.

Important:

A GP surgeon can reject adding you to their patient list if they are full. If this is the case, you will need to contact the Primary Care Trust in your area to find alternatives.

If you need emergency medical help, you should rather head to the hospital.

Regional healthcare in the UK

As mentioned earlier, healthcare in the UK is managed at the national level, so it does not differ from one region to another. The available healthcare facilities usually depend on where you live. In major cities and surrounding areas, you will find many public hospitals, dentists, drop-in centres, as well as general practitioners. In the smaller towns and villages, there is always a GP and hospital within the proximity of your home.

Good to know:

Adding your postal code to the NHS's search tool will make it easier to find the nearest healthcare facility.

Health insurance in the UK

If you need private health insurance in the United Kingdom, there are many insurance companies to choose from.

Some of the leading health insurance providers are:

Consider having a look at their offers according to your needs and get a free quote on Expat.com's Health Insurance for expatriates in the UK page.

Some of these private health insurance providers also offer coverage for immediate family members.

Some companies in the UK offer private healthcare service as part of your recruitment package or an option for employees. Contact your HR department for more information.

Important:

You might have to check whether you are not already covered by the NHS before subscribing for private health insurance.

Emergency numbers in the UK

In case you need urgent medical attention in the UK, you shall not contact the GP. Instead, go directly to the local hospital or call the following emergency numbers:
999: UK police, Ambulance, Fire Brigade, or Coastguard
112: European emergency number

Useful links:

European Health Insurance number
NHS information
Private Insurance Comparison site

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