NHS in the UK – How the Health Service Works

Come funziona NHS in UK – Il servizio sanitario Nazionale in italiano

So, here we are, as I mentioned already several times, you need a GP, yes you do. It is very important to register with your local GP. But that’s not all. You need to know how the NHS works, so this is what I will try and explain to you: how to use NHS in the UK and how NHS works.

Doesn’t matter if you don’t fall sick very often, you might here in London and it’s always very useful to be prepared and have a Doctor that can help. Here in the UK we have the NHS, which stands for National health Service. Well, let’s be honest: I am sure you have heard it in two main occasions, one being during 2016 Brexit Referendum and then…maybe you have heard a list of different stories, not always very good about how NHS works.

Here in the UK we don’t’ pay for NHS, not like in the USA where you need to have a private medical insurance. It is available to everyone and most of treatments are free of charge. But, of course, you have to be registered and a legal resident, pay your taxes, etcblack stethoscope with brown leather case

My humble opinion but I honestly think the NHS here in the UK works pretty well, clinics and hospitals are very often super modern and very well organized.

Anyway, so yes, we all have access to free services from NHS, but also, we can access private medical care. Sometimes, like everywhere else, if you decide to go for the NHS you might need to wait for your appointment, while private care is generally quicker.

How do I access NHS if I am not a British citizen?

Nothing to worry about. All you need is the followings:

  • Need to be a legal resident.
  • A European Citizen
  • If not an EC citizen you must have a Visa
  • If you are a +6-month student
  • A person with the right of abode in Great Britain

I have mentioned that you can access NHS if you are a European Citizen, but Brexit is literally around the corner so things might chance. Not for the time being tough, if you move to the UK before Brexit and get your Pre-Settled Status, you will be allowed to access NHS, always. If you move to the UK in 2020 you will be allowed to use NHS and if you move here in 2020 AND wish to stay after January 2021, you will need to register for a TRL, a temporary permit. This might allow you to keep using NHS.

Right now, all the info regarding what will happen in January 2021, says that all European citizens will need a Visa very similar to the Australian immigration system. We need to wait and see what happens.black and gray stethoscope

How to Register?

You can register to the NHS simply by registering to your local GP Medical practice. You will get a NHS number which will never change and you must keep it very safe. Not all services from NHS are free of charge, but your GP consultation, hospital treatment and visits to walk in clinics are all free. Your NHS number will also give you discounts for other medical services such as dental treatments, tests, etc – But bear in mind that to get these discounts to must be treated in a NHS affiliated clinic, so check this before you pick where you want to get treated!

If you live and work, legally, here in the UK and you are registered, your civil partner/wife/husband and kids are entitled to the same services.

You can find your local GP here, by using this official website link. It is very important to register also because many employers will ask for your GP details while you sign the contract. Don’t know how to pick a GP? First of all, you have to get someone in your area, then you will be able to see reviews on the website and, very useful, GPs are ranked online, same website.

Let’s pretend you feel sick, you have injured yourself, mildly, so this is not so urgent and not an emergency for A&E, and of course you can’t wait for a GP appointment. Well, you can go to a walk-in clinic. Search online there are a few scattered in London and other areas in the UK. You don’t need to book an appointment; you will be asked for your details. All you need to do is wait for your turn, it can be 20 mins, it can 3 hours.

If you get an appointment with your GP and they think you might need a specialist, they will refer you to one at the Hospital. And this is free of charge, from the first visit to surgery if you ever need one. So yes, hospital treatment is free if you are a legal UK resident. No need to be a British Citizen.clear glass cup

I have previously mentioned that you can go to a Walk-In Clinic if you need medical care but you can’t wait for your GP appointment, but if you have a serious emergency you need to go to the A&E (Accident & Emergency Services), at the hospital.

Dental Care. Here we go, this is the weak link. Nope, this doesn’t work particularly well. You can find many amazing dentists in London, generally speaking many will prefer to go private instead of using NHS affiliated clinics. Now, this is entirely up to you. You can also check if your private medical insurance from work covers dental treatment.

Things to remember:

  • Don’t ever believe too much to what people say about NHS in the UK, especially expats, because NHS really works well.
  • If you need a GP appointment bear in mind you might need to wait 7 or 14 days, so book well in advance. Sometimes they have emergency spots.
  • Some Boots Pharmacies have a Doctor inside so if you need just an advice regarding over-the-counter medications, you can use this service. They are usually very helpful.

Hopefully you will never need to see a Doctor, but it is always very important to be prepared and informed. Hope this guide was helpful, please leave me a comment below 😊

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