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Basics of the UK Healthcare System

The UK is home to the largest public health care system, the National Healthcare System. Commonly called the NHS, the system was founded more than 60 years ago and is designed to provide free medical care to citizens of the United Kingdom, which includes England, Scotland and Wales.


If you're moving from Australia to the UK , it's important that you understand the basics of the UK healthcare system and what it means to you. Even though the NHS is intended for citizens, you can take advantage of some free services while you go through the immigration process.

Emergency Care

If you walk into an Accident & Emergency Centre at a UK hospital or visit one of the country's walk-in treatment centres due to an accident or an actual medical emergency, your treatment will be free of charge. The hospital can, however, declare that your visit was not an emergency. For example, if you had a bad head cold and visited the A&E, your illness would typically not be considered a true medical emergency, meaning you may need to pay for the care received.

Hospital Care 

If you need to undergo surgery, medical testing or be admitted to a hospital, you can receive free treatment, provided you are employed by a company based in the UK. You can also receive free treatment as a spouse or child of someone who moved to the UK for work. The hospital may require proof from your employer to verify that you are working there. If you are not employed, you are guaranteed free treatment if you have been in the UK for at least one year. The hospital can also choose to provide free care for other non-citizens who are legally residing in the UK at their discretion. 

General Practitioners and Dentists

The NHS gives GPs and dentists the option to establish their own policies for treating non-UK citizens. Some GPs and dentists will accept any legal resident onto their NHS patient list, meaning that they can receive free care. Others place certain qualifications on prospective patients, and some will not accept any non-citizens as NHS patients.


Chess Moving can help you find GPs and dentists in your local area and supply you with additional information about the NHS and moving to the UK . Contact us today for more information.


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