Private Business Intermediaries

NHS Will Charge Overseas Visitors for Using NHS Hospitals

04/10/2012 | By Sharmila Chauhan
In this period of economic downturn, the NHS is looking for way to cut back on expenditure and increase productivity. The Department of Health has just released guidance for the NHS charges for overseas visitors. This means that patients who use the NHS service but are not ‘settled’ in the UK must pay for the use of NHS hospitals (GPs and other primary (community) based NHS services are not included).

The term settled has been defined as:
‘living lawfully in the United Kingdom voluntarily and for settled purposes as part of the regular order of their life for the time being, whether they have an identifiable purpose for their residence here and whether that purpose has a sufficient degree of continuity to be properly described as “settled”’. (House of Lords 1982)
Anyone who is not ‘settled’ in the UK will now have to pay for hospital services. This means that it is more important than ever for visitors to the UK to have adequate travel health insurance and for people who live and work abroad to have adequate private medical health insurance should they need healthcare when visiting the UK.

Services that will remain ‘non chargeable’ on the NHS (irrespective of UK status) include:
  • Accident and emergency services, whether provided at a hospital accident and emergency department (but not emergency treatment given elsewhere in the hospital);
  • Services at a walk-in centre or minor injury unit in respect of services similar to those at an accident and emergency department of a hospital;
  • Family planning services;
  • Treatment of certain communicable diseases, where treatment is necessary to protect the public health (a list of such diseases is provided in the guidance);
  • Treatment for a sexually transmitted disease at an STD clinic or on referral from one8;
  • Compulsory psychiatric services (e.g. treatment given to people detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 or other legislation).