Health Coverage in London & the United Kingdom
The most important thing you need to know about the medical facilities in the UK is that once you are a resident, the taxes you pay give you access to free healthcare. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/international/medical-services/healthcare-arrangements-for-people/uk-health-services/.
The UK National Health Service (NHS) is the social health organization in the UK. The NHS is one of the leading health services in the world. As an expat with permission to live and work in the UK, you will have access to free NHS if you are originally from the EU, Australia and New Zealand; all other non-British residents will have to pay for their health treatments for 12 months from the first registration with a local doctor (GP). It is essential that you and your family register with a local GP as soon as possible. To check if you qualify consult: http://www.dh.gov.uk, or your consulate.
Enrolling in NHS
You do not contact the NHS to enroll in the system. Instead, the process is taken care of through a General Practitioners’ office. Once you’ve decided upon a doctor (see below) call the office to make a registration appointment with a nurse. At this appointment, you will be asked to fill out a simple form, show proof of address (a utility bill is the best thing to bring) and submit to a weighing-in. The nurse will also request a urine sample. Once this appointment has been completed you will be registered with that particular GP office and can go there for all your medical needs. Your NHS number will be sent to your provided address by post.
Choosing a Doctor
You must register with a GP/Surgery within the catchment area of your residence. The National Health Service offers this advice when selecting your doctor:
- Ask local people: your new neighbours can give you a good idea as to which doctors are thought of highly in the area.
- Use local services: you can find lists of GP surgeries in the local phone directory, public library and Citizens Advice Bureau.
- Online: you can type in your postcode on the NHS website and find a list of the local surgeries, doctors and opening times.
Once you’ve drawn up a list of practices that are close to where you live, it’s worth phoning to verify that they currently accept new patients. Most surgeries operate within a fairly strict catchment area system, and only those who live within the area are able to register.
This isn’t to be awkward but ensures a GP can visit a person at home in an emergency in a reasonable time.
A surgery may refuse an application to join its list of patients if:
- you don’t reside in the surgery area
- it has formally closed its list of patients, eg when a practice has more patients than it can deal with or not enough doctors – this is less common than it used to be.
If your application is refused, the surgery must write to you and give the reasons for this decision. It’s always worthwhile to take some time to check out your local practices before you register as a patient.
All GP’s consultations are free but NHS prescriptions cost a flat rate of £7.10, except for birth control, which is free. If you need hospital treatment, your doctor will refer you unless it is an emergency in which case you call an ambulance or get driven to the nearest local hospital. Queues in A&E can be very long.
Dental care is available on the NHS but there are many restrictions that may hinder an expat. This link details said restrictions and your potential access to NHS dentistry: http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/1786.aspx
Some employers offer extensive medical plans. Blue Chip employers are the most likely to have these plans in place for their employees. These benefits could include psychological treatment and physiotherapy and also dental insurance. Generally speaking, however, if your company does not supply supplemental insurance, the National Health Service is more than adequate.
If you are only staying in the UK for a short time and don’t wish to sign up with the NHS, contact a private healthcare company. Insurance will be expensive but necessary. Care might be faster but not necessarily better. Expat Financial offers some excellent international health plans for expats living in the United Kingdom, including ones from:
You can get a quote and even apply online. It is actually quite simple.