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Overview

 
When you are moving to a new country, one of your primary concerns is what to do if you need medical assistance. This is especially true when you are moving with children, who normally tend to have more frequent need to see a doctor.

As in most countries, in the UK you can either utilise the public healthcare services (the National Health Service or NHS), which is publicly funded, or - alternatively – you can utilise private healthcare services.

Generally speaking, if you reside in the UK you are entitled to the NHS services.

A non UK resident, visiting from a non EU country, will normally only be entitled to emergency treatment and will have to pay for other medical services. However there are circumstances whereby the UK has agreements with other countries on healthcare matters. Further details can be downloaded from the Department of Health website.

The General Practitioner (GP)

 
The GP is at the centre of the UK healthcare system. When you arrive in the UK, you should locate a GP practice nearby your home address. The NHS website has a tool to search for NHS GPs near you. Normally GPs have a “catchment area”. Therefore once you have located a GP near you, it is wise to call to verify that they do accept patients from your home address.

You will need to fill in one or several forms (according to the practice) providing your personal and medical details. One of these forms will be utilised to register you with the NHS and to allocate you an NHS number. You will normally receive at your home address an NHS medical card a few weeks after you have registered with your GP.

In the UK you normally need to go through a GP to be referred to specialists. This means that for non-emergency treatment, you will first need to book an appointment with your GP who, after evaluating your situation, will decide whether to refer you to a specialist.

Those who have private medical insurance will usually still need to go to see their GP in order to be referred to a specialist. In fact, insurers normally ask for your GP to fill in a form of referral to a specialist (and such a service is not covered by the NHS, i.e. you will have to pay a fee for this).

There are also private GP practices for those who prefer this arrangement to the NHS. Web search engines will greatly assist you in finding a private GP.

 
The Dentist
 
On the NHS website you will also be able to find an NHS dentist covering your home address area. However you should be aware that it generally proves difficult to find a dentist that provides services under the NHS. Most dentists today tend to provide private services or a mixture of private and NHS services.

You should therefore do some research in your area to find out which dentist services are available. As mentioned above, you may utilise the NHS website to locate a dentist that provides NHS treatment or other web search engines to locate dentists that provide private services.

Useful links

Department of Health 

 
 
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All the information on Expats Plaza is free to view. If after having reviewed the information on Expats Plaza you believe this has been useful to you, please visit the Support Us page.
 
 
This page was last updated on 12.11.2010
 
 
Expats Plaza is the website for the Expatriates living in the UK