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Will I be Entitled to NHS Treatment?

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 8 Nov 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Will I Be Entitled To Nhs Treatment?

Q.

I would like to know more about giving birth in UK. I am not a British Citizen and do not live in the UK however I am married to a British citizen.

I am planning to come to UK prior to my delivery but I would like to know if I will be entitled to receive NHS treatment or will I have to pay for private care?

(Mrs Shahira Hashem, 6 November 2008)

A.

Eligibility for Free NHS Treatment

Entitlement to free NHS treatment in the UK is based on the country of residence and not citizenship. The general rule is that all UK residents are entitled to free treatment. It is up to the hospital administering the treatment to ensure that the patient is eligible for free healthcare.

The test to be applied for eligibility is whether the individual seeking treatment is ordinarily resident in the UK – in other words that they are in the UK legally and are settled there. If the test is satisfied there is no minimum qualifying period of residence before an individual becomes eligible for free treatment.

Categories of Treatment Which are Free to Everyone

Some types of treatment are available to everyone for free, even if they would not ordinarily be eligible for free NHS healthcare. These include:
  • Treatment given in a hospital accident and emergency department or similar treatment administered by an NHS walk-in centre;
  • Family planning services;
  • Compulsory treatment for a psychiatric disorder.
  • Treatment for some contagious diseases – but different rules apply to AIDS/HIV;
Although family planning services are included in this list maternity services are not.

Eligibility for NHS Treatment for Overseas Residents

Some overseas residents may still be entitled to free NHS treatment.

Citizens of the EU, the European Economic Area or Switzerland - or of countries who have a reciprocal agreement with the UK regarding healthcare - may be entitled to free NHS treatment even if they are not resident in the UK. However, eligibility under this category will not generally apply if the overseas resident came to the UK knowing that they needed medical care. The exception is if they were specifically referred to the UK for treatment under a reciprocal agreement.

You say that you do not live in the UK but are coming to the country prior to the birth. If it is your intention to remain in the UK as a resident after the birth and have permission to do so, either in your own right or as a result of your husband’s citizenship, you are likely to be entitled to free NHS treatment.

If your intention is to come to the UK solely to give birth and then return to your country of residence you are unlikely to be entitled to free NHS treatment. You may still be treated in an NHS hospital - but as a private patient. If you presented at an NHS hospital in labour, you would almost certainly receive treatment without having to pay for it in advance. However, if you were deemed ineligible for free treatment the hospital would be obliged to pursue you for payment afterwards.

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Hello, I would like to know please wether the answer you gave above about giving birth in the uk is still relevant in 2018. I am in the same situation, married to British citizen we live abroad but we own a residence in the UK. I am pregnant and we are planning for me to deliver in the uk as our insurance in our country of residence doesn’t cover pregnancy and delivery. Am I entitled to free nhs treatment in this case? I am holder of spouse visa. Thank you in advance
Sofia - 8-Nov-18 @ 4:31 AM
My husband has a Belgium passport, I have a British. Will he be able to use the NHS when we move to the UK?
Olli - 5-Nov-18 @ 2:15 PM
@Cat - British citizens are considered ordinarily resident in the UK as soon as they arrive to the UK with the intention of remaining permanently so you would be immediately entitled to free services under the NHS. Your spouse will pay an NHS surcharge as part of his visa application which will entitle him to free services under the NHS.
TJ. - 24-Oct-18 @ 7:25 PM
I am a British citizen who has resided in the US as a permanent resident with my spouse for 28 years.Should we return to the UK, either long term, or permanently, how will that effect our nhs entitlements.i.e. myself and my spouse for a 6 month stay to work, and/r myself and my spouse for a 5 year stay to work?And if we retire there and he applies for British citizenship?Please advise.Thank you.
Cat - 23-Oct-18 @ 4:38 PM
@rykie - If the treatment is free under the NHS then your son will be entitled to it as you will be ordinarily resident in the UK. All you need to do is register with a GP when you arrive after which you will obtain NHS numbers.
TJ. - 9-Oct-18 @ 2:51 PM
@rykie Is the purpose of your stay in the U.K. to work or is it to have treatment for your son? As part of applying for an ancestry visa you must show that you intend to work in the U.K. can provide housing for your family and contribute like any other ordinary resident. I only say this because I know someone who was refused an ancestry visa on the basis that she was coming to the U.K for medical treatment for her child when they said treatment was available where they were and they had no right to appeal.
Nic - 9-Oct-18 @ 10:26 AM
Hi TJ Thank you for your response. What should we do in order to commence with my son's chemotherapy immediately once we arrive? Will the hospitals not turn us away or tell us to pay as this is a pre existing condition before arriving in the country?
rykie - 9-Oct-18 @ 5:12 AM
Hi TJ Thank you for your response. What should we do in order to commence with my son's chemotherapy immediately once we arrive? Will the hospitals not turn us away or tell us to pay as this is a pre existing condition before arriving in the country? Pls see previous correspondence below: Rykie - All people who are ordinarily resident in the UK are entitled to free services under the NHS. Given that the Ancestry visa is for 5 years, you should be considered ordinarily resident upon arrival and registering with a GP TJ. - 7-Oct-18 @ 10:37 AM We are planning on moving to the UK on an Ancestry Visa. Will my 5 yr old son who has leukemia qualify for free healthcare and treatment for his condition when we get to the UK and will there be a waiting period as this is a pre-existing conditon? Rykie - 5-Oct-18 @ 10:55 PM
Rykie - 8-Oct-18 @ 12:10 AM
@Rykie - All people who are ordinarily resident in the UK are entitled to free services under the NHS. Given that the Ancestry visa is for 5 years, you should be considered ordinarily resident upon arrival and registering with a GP
TJ. - 7-Oct-18 @ 10:37 AM
We are planning on moving to the UK on an Ancestry Visa. Will my 5 yr old son who has leukemia qualify for free healthcare and treatment for his condition when we get to the UK and will there be a waiting period as this is a pre-existing conditon?
Rykie - 5-Oct-18 @ 10:55 PM
@Lana - All British residents including foreign nationals who are legally in the UK are entitled to free services under the NHS
TJ. - 29-Sep-18 @ 3:13 PM
Hi, we are a couple consisting of one kiwi who is pregnant and on an ancestry visa, who has been here for 3.5years. And one fullbritish citizen who has lived here all his life. We have been together for 1.5 years. Kiwi is now pregnant. Is she entitled to free maternity care (inc delivery etc.) under NHS?
Lana - 28-Sep-18 @ 11:05 PM
Ro - Your friend is not entitled to free NHS maternity care. However she cannot be refused maternity care if she requires it despite her immigration status or ability to pay.
TJ. - 13-Sep-18 @ 4:24 PM
Ro - Your Question:
My friend is illegal in UK and dating a English guy and now she is pregnant. Is she can use Gp and having a baby here or she need to back to her country?

Our Response:
Your friend would not be entitled to NHS treatment if she is in the UK without legal documentation and would have to leave to have her child in her home country.
AboutImmigration - 13-Sep-18 @ 1:59 PM
My friend is illegal in UK and dating a English guy and now she is pregnant. Is she can use Gp and having a baby here or she need to back to her country?
Ro - 11-Sep-18 @ 7:22 PM
Hannah - Your Question:
HiI am a UK citizen born overseas. I have never lived in UK but am now going to be here permanently as I am starting a four year course at University of Manchester. How do I get a NHS number?Thanks

Our Response:
The link here should help answer your question.
AboutImmigration - 7-Sep-18 @ 12:07 PM
@Hannah - You will get an NHS number once you apply at your nearest GP
TJ. - 5-Sep-18 @ 9:53 PM
Hi I am a UK citizen born overseas. I have never lived in UK but am now going to be here permanently as I am starting a four year course at University of Manchester. How do I get a NHS number? Thanks
Hannah - 5-Sep-18 @ 6:09 PM
@Ish - If you move back to the UK permanently and register with a GP you will be entitled to NHS treatment as British citizens are considered ordinarily resident in the UK as soon as they return permanently
TJ. - 27-Aug-18 @ 10:50 PM
I am a British citizen. I moved to the US in 1998. Will I be eligible for NHS if I move back to the UK after the age of 62?
ish - 27-Aug-18 @ 4:48 PM
Vivien - Your Question:
Hello,I am a British citizen and I have aged over 60years old parents who visited and fell in and need emergency treatment. I will need to pay for their treatments?

Our Response:
If your parents are visitors from the EEA they will need a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued by their home country to access free treatment. If your parents are non-EEA visitors then please see the link here , which will tell you all you need to know.
AboutImmigration - 7-Aug-18 @ 9:31 AM
@Vivien If your parents are not residents within the U.K. then they will have to pay for their treatment. Do they not have travel insurance?
Nic - 6-Aug-18 @ 12:05 PM
Hello,I am a British citizen and I have aged over 60years old parents who visited and fell in and need emergency treatment. I will need to pay for their treatments?
Vivien - 6-Aug-18 @ 10:42 AM
I'm planning to get a job in education as lecturer in UK. I graduated with PhD in UK university last 6 years. However, my wife recieved a kidney treatment while we're there. Currently, shes back on dialysis. I wonder if her visa will be granted based on her condition. I'mplanning to get Tier 2 general, and her as dependent. Thank you
RM - 5-Aug-18 @ 4:58 AM
@MrsP - Free fertility treatment is handled differently and eligibility is treated differently. However someone with ILR should be treated as any other UK or EU national that is ordinarily resident
TJ. - 4-Aug-18 @ 2:08 AM
I have indefinite leave to remain in the UK and my partner is British. Our GP referred us to our local hospital for fertility treatment, however I have been told that to access this (free) treatment I have to be either British or EU otherwise I have to pay. This does not sound right as I am ordinarily resident in this country. I have asked the hospital to provide the guidance which stipulates that and I’ve been told a letter will be sent to my home address. What are you thoughts on that? I’m reading up on the issue, I might be wrong but I think the lady I spoke to assumed I was an overseas visitor as I was in shock I didn’t even think to ask that.
MrsP - 3-Aug-18 @ 5:48 PM
MK - Your Question:
Hello,I would like to ask about giving birth in UK. I was born in UK in 1987 and I had been living until 1991; then my family moved. My parents, siblings and I all have British citizenship. We had been UK for holidays periodically. Lastly I went to UK a year ago. My question is; when I decided to have a baby, do I have a right to give a birth in England as free and make my baby to have a British citizenship?Thank you for your help.

Our Response:
As the answer below, within the UK, free NHS treatment is provided on the basis of someone being classed as ‘ordinarily resident’. You can see more via the link here , which should help further answer your question.
AboutImmigration - 13-Jul-18 @ 9:27 AM
Hello, I would like to ask about giving birth in UK. I was born in UK in 1987 and I had been living until 1991; then my family moved. My parents, siblings and I all have British citizenship.We had been UK for holidays periodically. Lastly I went to UK a year ago. My question is; when I decided to have a baby, do I have a right to give a birth in England as free and make my baby to have a British citizenship? Thank you for your help.
MK - 12-Jul-18 @ 8:09 AM
Leo - Your Question:
Me and my wife are not UK citizen.Recently the company I work for has decided to transfer me to work on our London office.Me and my wife will be receiving the proper visas to reside and work on the UK.My question is regarding my wife. She's a patient diagnosed with multiple sclerosis on its earlier stage and currently receives treatment in Brazil.With our move to London, it would be hard to continue treatment in Brazil.I wonder if she may be eligible to receive treatment in England or if the fact of being an immigrant automatically makes her not fit to receive treatment.

Our Response:
As @TJ says, within the UK, free NHS treatment is provided on the basis of someone being classed as ‘ordinarily resident’. You can see more via the link here , which should help further answer your question.
AboutImmigration - 6-Jul-18 @ 9:29 AM
@Leo - NHS treatment is available to all legal residents of the UK whether or not you are a British citizen.
TJ. - 5-Jul-18 @ 2:12 AM
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