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Healthcare for UK Residents

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 14 Aug 2017 | comments*Discuss
Healthcare For Uk Residents

UK residents are entitled to receive healthcare from National Health Service (NHS) doctors and hospitals. For permanent UK residents treatment by an NHS doctor or hospital is available free of charge.

Eligibility for free NHS treatment is based on being ordinarily resident in the UK rather than on being a British citizen. In fact, British citizens who live abroad are not entitled to free NHS treatment. Under UK law it is the responsibility of the NHS hospital providing healthcare services to ensure that the individual is eligible to receive free healthcare.

General Practitioners

NHS General Practitioners (GPs) provide day-to-day healthcare for UK residents and also provide referrals to hospitals and specialist consultants. UK residents should make enquiries at one of the GP practises in their area and seek to register with one which has availability. GPs can write NHS prescriptions for authorised medication. Most people have to pay a flat fee for NHS prescriptions although some people are exempt.

NHS Hospitals

For sudden or acute illnesses or injuries residents should go to the accident and emergency department of their nearest NHS Hospital. In very serious cases the emergency number, 999, should be called and an ambulance requested.

The demands on NHS services are very high and waiting times at accident and emergency departments can be lengthy. Naturally, priority will be given to the most serious cases. People with less serious illnesses or injuries are encouraged to use the other healthcare providers available. These could include consulting a pharmacist, attending at an NHS walk-in-centre or telephoning the NHS Direct helpline.

NHS Walk-in-Centres

In 2000 NHS Walk-in-Centres were introduced to provide access to NHS healthcare for less serious illnesses and injuries; emergency contraception services are also available. People do not have to make an appointment or register to receive treatment and some Walk-in-Centres are open 365 days a year. However, enquiries should be made regarding the opening hours of individual centres. Most of the treatment is provided by nurses rather than doctors.

NHS Direct

The NHS now offers online advice through the NHS Direct website. There is also a telephone helpline for people who have enquiries about a particular healthcare issue. Help is available 24 hours a day. People who are not sure whether they should go to their GP or to the hospital, or whether an ailment could be treated at home may find that a call to the NHS Direct Helpline will answer their questions.

UK Residents on Low Incomes

Residents on low incomes may also be entitled to additional services – such as prescriptions and treatment by a dentist – free of charge. Residents on income support, job seekers allowance or whose income falls below a prescribed minimum are amongst those who may be entitled to additional healthcare services for free. Residents who think that they may be eligible should contact their local Jobcentre Plus to ask about their entitlement and to request an application form.

Temporary UK Residents

Some temporary residents may also be able to register with a GP and receive free treatment from them. However, it is up to the individual GP whether or not they agree to register a temporary resident.

Healthcare Services Which are Free to Everyone in the UK

Whether someone is a British citizen, a permanent resident or a foreign national in the UK on holiday there are some healthcare services which are available to everyone free of charge. These include:
  • Treatment at an NHS hospital accident and emergency department;
  • Services provided by an NHS walk-in centre that provides accident and emergency type treatment;
  • Treatment for some infectious diseases – however different rules apply to AIDS or HIV;
  • Compulsory psychiatric treatment;
  • Family planning services.

Where to Find NHS Treatment

The main NHS website has a comprehensive search tool where people can enter their postcode to find their nearest GP, hospital, walk-in-centre or dentist. Information is also available in the phone book or in local directories.

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Hello, I hold British passport and in January I am going to do a court marriage in India with my girlfriend (she already have Indian passport but without any visa). What do I have to do? Is she going to get British passport? or some visa on Indian passport that she currently hold?, what documents I have to provide and what documents she may have to provide? what is the best way to apply for such as visa?and how long does visa take (estimation). Any advice will be appreciated. Thanks
Huboot - 14-Aug-17 @ 7:52 PM
I got married in india in 2016, my wife came over in Nov 2016, since then the marriage has not worked and my wife has got herself a job, she doesnt seem to want to make the marriage work and is not interested in me. I asked if she wanted a divorce and she said its up to me. So what are my options, can I kick her out of the house, or send her back to india, it has been less than 2 years therefore I assume she wnt be given permanent residence in the UK> any advice would be appreciated.
Hobbo - 14-Aug-17 @ 10:26 AM
hibbi - Your Question:
I have been married to a UK citizen since last four years and got spouse visa. I went to live in UK and stayed with my husband for 6 months only. My husband went abroad for studies. Being a student he cannot afford my expenses due to which it has become difficult for me to live in UK. How can I apply for British nationality in such circumstances. I need financial support as well till the time I start earning. Can my husband be bound to come to UK and stay with me.

Our Response:
If you are dependent upon your husband's visa and you are no longer living together, then by law you should inform the Home Office, please see link here. If you have a residence permit that allows you to live in the UK, it may include the condition that you have no recourse to public funds. If so, it means you will not be able to claim most benefits, tax credits or housing assistance that are paid by the state. However, there are exceptions for some benefits and if you are in any doubt, you should contact the department or agency that issues it. This will often be the Department for Work and Pensions or HM Revenue & Customs. Find out if you can apply for settlement (ILR) in the UK, please see link here.
AboutImmigration - 3-Jul-17 @ 1:41 PM
I have been married to a UK citizen since lastfour yearsand got spouse visa. I wentto live in UK and stayed with my husband for 6 months only. Myhusband went abroad forstudies. Being a student he cannot afford my expenses due to which it has become difficult for me to live in UK. How can i apply for British nationality in such circumstances.I need financial support as well till the time i start earning. Can my husband be bound to come to UK and stay with me.
hibbi - 3-Jul-17 @ 8:42 AM
Question..I have dual citizenship ...British/Canadian returning to uk to live permanently next year with my Canadian husband(with scottish ancestry...mother was born in Glasgow).How does he go about getting a perscription refilled when he first lives in uk.
Dawn Westwood - 5-Jul-15 @ 10:21 PM
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