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Overseas visitors access to free NHS hospital treatment

Overseas visitor’s access to free NHS hospital treatment

As a visitor to the United Kingdom, you may be required to pay for your child’s NHS funded secondary care treatment. This applies regardless of nationality, having an NHS number or being registered at a GP practice, even if you are a former UK resident or tax payer. It is your responsibility to show that your child is entitled to this treatment by providing documentary evidence prior to any treatment they receive. This evidence should show that either:

  1. you have paid the immigration health surcharge for your child
    • and they hold a valid visa covering the duration of the treatment
  2. they have a valid non-UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), S1 or S2 form;
  3. they fall within another exemption category, which are set out in Regulations or,
  4. they have adequate travel or health insurance to cover their health needs.

If you consider that your child is not a visitor to the UK and instead is ordinarily resident here, you may also have to provide documentary evidence to support this. Your documentary evidence will be used to determine their eligibility for NHS funded secondary care treatment. If you do not provide satisfactory evidence to support a claim that your child is entitled to NHS funded secondary care treatment, you will be liable for the cost of any treatment they receive

Visitors from EEA countries

If you are a visitor or a student from the European Economic Area (EEA) and your child requires medical treatment, you need to provide a non-UK valid EHIC for them to ensure you are not charged for their healthcare. The EHIC will cover them for all medically necessary treatment during their stay although you should keep in mind that the UK’s healthcare system may be different from that in your home country and therefore their EHIC might not cover everything that you would expect to get free in your country. You should also be aware that the EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and will not cover any private medical healthcare or being flown back home. Planned treatment is also not covered by the EHIC and unless you have valid documentation (an ‘S2’ form) you may be charged for your child’s treatment.

How your eligibility may be assessed

Every provider of NHS funded secondary care in the UK is required to check all patients for their eligibility to NHS funded treatment. This is done by assessing if a patient is ordinarily resident in the UK or, if not, whether an exemption from charge category applies to them. You should therefore be prepared to provide evidence to demonstrate your child’s eligibility for NHS funded Secondary Care, which can be done by providing copies of:

  • at least 1 item with your photo (passport, national ID card, UK Biometric Residence Permit or driving licence)

and

  • at least 1 item to prove where you live (utility or council tax bill, bank or building society statement or rental agreement).
  • at least 1 item with your child’s photo (passport, national ID card, or UK Biometric Residence Permit).

Visitors from EEA countries

If you are a visitor or a student from the European Economic Area (EEA) and your child requires medical treatment, you need to provide a non-UK valid EHIC for them to ensure you are not charged for their healthcare. The EHIC will cover them for all medically necessary treatment during their stay although you should keep in mind that the UK’s healthcare system may be different from that in your home country and therefore their EHIC might not cover everything that you would expect to get free in your country. You should also be aware that the EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and will not cover any private medical healthcare or being flown back home. Planned treatment is also not covered by the EHIC and unless you have valid documentation (an ‘S2’ form) you may be charged for your child’s treatment.

How your eligibility may be assessed

Every provider of NHS funded secondary care in the UK is required to check all patients for their eligibility to NHS funded treatment. This is done by assessing if a patient is ordinarily resident in the UK or, if not, whether an exemption from charge category applies to them. You should therefore be prepared to provide evidence to demonstrate your child’s eligibility for NHS funded Secondary Care, which can be done by providing copies of:

  • at least 1 item with your photo (passport, national ID card, UK Biometric Residence Permit or driving licence)

and

  • at least 1 item to prove where you live (utility or council tax bill, bank or building society statement or rental agreement)
  • at least 1 item with your child’s photo (passport, national ID card, or UK Biometric Residence Permit).

Although they may be registered with a GP and may receive free NHS primary care services, this does not mean that they are entitled to NHS funded secondary care treatment, even if the GP refers them for it.

If they are in the UK on a temporary stay of more than 6 months, and you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge at the time of your child’s visa application, they will receive free NHS care as long as their leave to remain is still valid, except for charges that residents have to pay, for example prescriptions. If they are not resident in the UK but are exempt from charge, for example they are from a country that has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK, such as Australia, you will need to provide evidence of this.

Services free to all

Some services or treatments carried out in an NHS hospital are free of charge. These include:

  • accident and emergency services (not including emergency treatment if you are admitted to hospital)
  • diagnosis, and, if positive, treatment for most infectious diseases
  • treatment required for a physical or mental condition caused by torture, female genital mutilation, domestic violence or sexual violence (this does not apply if they been brought to the UK for the purpose of seeking that treatment)

Some categories of patients are also exempt from charge, including any condition caused by certain types of violence. A full list of exemptions can be found on Gov.uk

Immediately necessary treatment

If the treatment your child requires is deemed by the clinician to be immediately necessary or urgent it will not be withheld and will go ahead without delay, although you will still be charged for the treatment if no exemption category applies to them.

If you do not pay before treatment, charges will be made after their treatment and you will be required to pay.

Paying for treatment

If you do need to pay for your child’s treatment, you will receive an invoice and will be required to pay the full cost of their hospital treatment. This invoice will be estimated based on expected treatment. However, if the final cost of treatment is different to the estimated cost you will be either reimbursed any money owed to you or additional charges will be made to cover the higher cost of treatment. Always ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place to cover unexpected health needs during your stay.

You can find more information from

Overseas Visitor Team
0114 3053636
scn-tr.overseas.visitors@nhs.net
Paying patients webpage

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Disclaimer

Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.

Resource number: PPS1

Resource Type: Article

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