Healthcare

The United Kingdom is a healthy place in which to live, although expatriates coming from warmer climates may need to adjust to the damp, cold winter weather and may find that, at first, they are susceptible to head colds and other minor ailments. Air pollution caused by vehicle emissions is present in most cities but does not constitute a major health hazard. Pollen counts are broadcast on the radio during the spring and summer months.

Entitlement

Britain has a government subsidised National Health Service (NHS), the NHS operates local and regional hospitals, doctor’s surgeries and clinics, providing all your healthcare requirements.

Under the current regulations, anyone who is engaging in employment with an employer who has his principle place of business in the UK, or who is a self-employed person whose principle place of business is in the UK is fully exempt from National Health Service (NHS) hospital charges in England. This exemption applies to your spouse, civil partner and children (under the age of 16 or 19 if in further education) if they are living with you in the UK on a permanent basis.

For more definitive information please visit the Department of Health website.

Doctors (General Practitioners)

On taking up residence in the UK it is advisable to approach a GPs practice and apply to register onto its list of NHS patients. The practice may choose to accept or decline your application. An application may be refused if the practice has reasonable grounds for doing so, such as if you are living outside their practice area, in which case they should be able to advise you on which practices catchment area you fall within.

To locate your local Doctors Surgery visit the NHS Choices website.

When registering with your local surgery you will be asked to provide:

If you need to visit the NHS but have not yet joined your local surgery or dentist there are a variety of options available to you:

Dentists

It has become increasingly difficult to locate and register with a NHS dentist within the UK as not all surgeries will accept NHS patients. However, it is well worth researching your local surgeries in attempt to become NHS registered as this will substantially reduce the cost of any required dental work.

To locate your local dental surgeries visit the NHS Choices website. By clicking on each surgery’s heading the further information provided will detail whether they are currently accepting new or transferring NHS patients plus further details of opening hours etc.  

General Information

Prescriptions

Prescriptions supplied by GPs and hospitals are dispensed at chemists, which also stock a wide range of remedies, cosmetics and other toiletries. Some hospital prescriptions are dispensed at the hospital pharmacy. These services are available at present free of charge to retired persons, children and pregnant women. Contraceptives prescribed by a GP are available to women free of charge through the NHS.

Pharmacies / Chemists and Drug Stores

Chemists shops are open during normal hours (usually 09.00 to 17.30/18.00 - chemists in small towns and suburbs usually close for an hour at lunchtime). In most towns, chemists operate a rota system so that at least one is open in each neighbourhood during the early evening (including Sundays) to dispense urgent prescriptions, details are given in the local press and there are sometimes notices on the chemist’s door. In Central London, there are chemists and drug stores open 24 hours a day.

Vaccinations and Health Requirements

There are no required vaccinations for the UK, but it is recommended that you be vaccinated against the normal childhood illnesses such as measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) and diphtheria, tetanus, and polio.

Special Needs

If any member of your family has a chronic or special health condition, it should be determined well before travelling.  Anyone with specific allergies or reactions to drugs should wear a bracelet clearly showing the specific problems.

Specific Diseases and Medical Conditions

Health conditions in the UK are excellent, and there are no widespread occurrences of disease.  Travellers rarely suffer from upset stomachs in the UK. The geography and strict quarantine laws mean that Rabies has almost been eradicated.

Environmental and climatic conditions are conducive to good health, however the damp winters can affect those with bronchial disorders and asthma.  The sun is rarely strong enough to pose a serious risk unless excessive exposure occurs.  Temperatures do not reach excessive heights or depths in summer or winter.

Private healthcare providers

It is increasingly more common for better off families to take out private medical cover; below we have detailed links to some of the main UK providers.