Thursday 3 March 2011

NHS medical - update

Now it doesn't seem to be too clear, but from what I've read you need an NHS number to access NHS services.  It might be that this is a fairly recent thing because previously it appears you used your NI (National Insurance) number for this purpose.  The NI number is necessary to work.  
This web site talks about the NHS numbers :  NHS Number


Peter Berry said...

Hi Elly, me again! This subject is very complicated. You are basically kind of right in what you are saying. Taking it right back to roots: You obtain the relevant visa to enter UK. If that is one that allows you to work, then you can obtain an NI number, (which you need to work). Once you have an NI number, and after a period of time working, (not sure of the time), you are then eligible to full NHS access. Once eligible, you get an NHS number. As a visitor for any other purpose, you don't have any access to NHS services except in emergeny, when you would always receive treatment, (unlike some countries, who won't work on you 'till they see the evidence that they will be paid). Charges for treatment would be made later against travel insurance etc. However, some countres, such as Australia, operate a reciprocal medical care agreement with UK, that provides basic care should it be needed for their citizens while they are here. Travel insurance is still required to back this up in the event of escalation of whatever the problem is. As a matter of interest, if a British resident has been living abroad for many years and has not made any NI contributions during that time, they also are not eligible for NHS treatment should they return. So, as you can see, full access to NHS services is based on contributions, made while working, by means of the NI system. Off subject slightly, another point about dentists I thought of is, currently there is an accute shortage of NHS dentists, due to the poor remuneration they recieve for their work. As a result many British people cannot register with one and have to go private. A poor situation, but if you are lucky enough to be registered with an NHS one, you stick with it, and should you move, as my daughter did to London, you travel back when required. If you don't make regular visits however, they strike you off, so that someone else can use your place! As we have already established. GP's don't operate in this way, you have to reside nearby. Your own governement website about travelling to UK has good info. I also found one with good info:
If you don't already know it, the Australian info site is:
Look at the end of the page on health care. I hope this helps further, and doesn't confuse further!

Peter Berry said...

The easiest way to confirm these matters without ambiguity would be to contact the UK department of health overseas visitors policy team here:

Department of Health Overseas Visitors Policy Team - hospital treatment

For information on the entitlement of overseas visitors to free NHS hospital treatment:

Room 4W07, Quarry House
Quarry Hill

* Email:

I suspect an email would be easiest, outlining your own circumstances. Regards, Peter.

Ali and John (NB Triskaideka) said...


Have a look at this it explains the entitlement to NHS treatment.

Hope it helps