The British health care system is managed by the NHS (National Health Service). The NHS takes in charge health care related costs for residents in the country. Foreigners can benefit from the NHS provided that they hold a valid visa issued for a minimum duration of 6 months. Dependants of the visa holder (spouse, children) can also benefit from the NHS.
In order to enrol the NHS, foreigners in the UK need to get their NHS affiliation number. To get your affiliation number and your NHS card, visit the nearest local health authority and fill in the form that you will be given at the front desk. You will then receive your NHS card and your personal affiliation number by postal mail within a few days.
The next step is registering with a GP surgery. The GP surgery is the general practitioner or referring doctor you need to visit in order to get appropriate treatments or before applying for an appointment to a specialist. You can search the yellow pages to find your GP surgery. Note however that a GP surgery can refuse to take you in charge. If so, contact the Primary Care Trust of your area that will help you find a GP.
Citizens of the EU are covered in the UK through their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Health related costs in the country will be taken in charge in the same conditions as for British nationals. If you don't have an EHIC, visit your national health care system to get appropriate information before leaving for the UK.
If you need a private health insurance in the UK (as required in the framework of the Working Holiday Visa for instance), use our free advice and quotation service!
Emergency numbers in the UK:
999 : police emergency, ambulance, fire brigade or coastguards
112 : european emergency number
European Heath Insurance Card
NHS – How to register when I move to England