Health Tips in the UK


Health Tips When Moving to the UK – ExpatFinder Articles



National Health Services (NHS) is Britain's healthcare provider. The NHS works through a network of hospitals, general practitioners, specialists, dentists, opticians and an ambulance service. It is important to note that not all medical services provided by the NHS are free. Patients usually have to pay a subsidized cost for prescriptions, NHS glasses, sight tests and dental treatment. Medical consultations, hospital treatment costs and ambulance services are free. Following persons are entitled to register for the NHS:  

- Those with the right of residence in Britain and currently resident in Britain (excluding British citizens who are resident abroad) 

- Anyone who has been resident in the UK for the last one year 

- EU nationals 

- Students (pursuing courses longer than 6 months) 

- Anyone holding a British work permit 

Free or subsidized treatment under the NHS is available to citizens of countries with whom the UK has reciprocal agreements. 

Long waiting times for treatment, poor facilities and procedural delays have compelled most Britons to opt for private healthcare. Those desirous of using private healthcare are required to take out an insurance policy with a specialist insurer. Several employers provide their employees with health insurance.  


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NHS waiting lists, particularly for non-emergency specialist treatments and appointments, tend to be very long. This is probably why most people prefer to opt for private medical treatment in the UK; this is among the best in the world. London in fact has some of the world's most skilled specialists. The popularity of private healthcare in the UK can be gauged from the fact that a quarter of operations in the country are performed privately. You will find information about private healthcare providers in the UK. 


Register with a local GP once you move to the UK. Asking friends and colleagues for a recommendation is the best way to find a suitable doctor and dentist. The Family Health Service Authorities (FHSAs) publish a list of doctors, dentists, opticians and chemists. This list is published in the Yellow Pages and is available at post offices, libraries, tourist information centers and Citizens Advice Bureaux.   

There is no difference in the quality of doctors attached to the NHS and those in private facilities. However, the quality of dentists attached to the NHS may be lower than that of a private dentistry. You can see a doctor without an appointment during surgery hours which are usually 9 am to 11 am on weekdays.  


Pharmacies or chemists dispense medicines and are give free advice for minor ailments. Time tables of local chemists are pasted in their stores and published in local newspapers. To procure medicines when all pharmacies are shut, you can contact your GP or local police station.  

There are 3 categories of medicines in the UK: those prescribed by doctors, those that are freely available in pharmacies, supermarkets and news agents and those that have to be sold under the supervision of a pharmacist. There are fixed rates for NHS prescription medicines (£6.30 at time of writing). Pensioners (men over 65 and women over 60), students under 19 and others under 16 are entitled to free prescriptions. Women who are pregnant or have had a baby in the past year, those with permanent disabilities, certain medical conditions like diabetes and with low incomes may also be entitled to free prescriptions.  

Emergency Numbers 

General Emergency Number: 999 

NHS 24 Hour Helpline: 0845 4647 

In Case of an Emergency 

In case of an emergency where your condition is non-life threatening you can contact your GP or any local doctors. There are a number of private 24-hour doctor services that make house calls and you can contact them as well. If the problem is serious and you are physically able, head to the nearest hospital with an A&E (Accident & Emergency Facility) Alternatively, you can call for an ambulance. Do not let insurance issues plague you when affected by an emergency because in Britain, the law requires emergency treatment to patients free of cost irrespective of their nationality and ability to pay. If your country has a reciprocal health agreement with the UK then you could be asked to pay for any emergency treatment at a later date.  

Health Risks 

There are no major health risks in the country.


Photo: CIPD