Most healthcare in England is provided by the National Health Service (NHS), England's publicly funded healthcare system. The NHS system uses General Practitioners (GPs) to provide primary healthcare and to make referrals to further services as necessary.
Hospitals then provide more specialist services, including care for patients with psychiatric illnesses, as well as direct access to Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments.
Pharmacies (other than those within hospitals) are privately owned but have contracts with the relevant health service to supply prescription drugs.
The public healthcare system provides free ambulance services for emergencies, when patients need the specialist transport only available from ambulance crews or when patients are not fit to travel home by public transport.
The NHS system also provides dental services through private dental practices and dentists and charge NHS patients at the set rates. Patients opting to be treated privately do not receive any NHS funding for the treatment. See below for Dental FAQs and links to documents in the Outpost Library.
In England many medications are not sold over the counter. A prescription charge of £8.05 is payable per item. Some people are entitled to free prescriptions because of their age, income or medical condition. www.nhs.uk/planners/yourhealth/pages/prescriptioncosts.aspx
NHS and Your GP
As a resident in the UK, you are eligible for National Health Service (NHS), England's publicly funded healthcare system (means free for you and your family).
Once you have moved to your permanent address in the UK, you and your entire family should register with your local GP (General Practitioner). To find the local GP go www.nhs.uk/service-search, submit your postcode, select GP service and find the local practices close to your home. It is also useful to look up the closest hospital with A&E (Accident & Emergency) services so in case of Emergency you know where to go.
If you are insured by BUPA or BUPA international, you can use private medicine in addition or in replacement to NHS. Many (but not all) specialists require your NHS GP referral. BUPA team can find you the such specialist and schedule an appointment for you.
Please note that you need a pre-authorisation letter from BUPA before you visit a private doctor.
Please note that BUPA does not have emergency services; for that you’ll need to use NHS.
Helpful Tips - Home Visits
Home visits can be difficult to justify to NHS GPs - they would usually suggest you to take the child to them or to a nearby hospital. Even if you are very ill, your GP will not visit you at home. You can schedule an emergency appointment to see the GP you are registered with or go directly to the hospital.
If you or your child is ill, not bad enough to call for an ambulance, but still too poorly in your view to be taken/driven to a hospital or to a GP, there are several private companies who would send a doctor to your home. This may be costly but very convenient. There are several private companies that offer this service for a fee - http://nightdoctor.org.uk/services/ and http://www.doctorcall.co.uk/
October 2015 Updated BUPA Local Package Information
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1) My son needs dental braces and am wondering if it is better to use NHS or BUPA when choosing for this dental services? Any pros and cons?
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2) How does the dental system work in the UK for expats, especially if there is an emergency or tooth ache? I realise BUPA does not cover dental care, so do I need to get an independent insurance for a dental care or may I pop into one of the NHS dentists?
Answer: It is advisable to discuss the terms and condition and the small print of your insurance with BUPA International directly. It is true that dental is not included into your medical insurance, but the emergency care is. If you need to see a doctor ASAP, BUPA will usually cover for the initial visit and the doctors have emergency slots reserved every day. You can also ask BUPA to find a good, reliable private dentist in your area or close to your office and schedule an appointment. This may be quicker than getting an NHS dentist that will require a referral from you GP with whom you will need to schedule an appointment. To our knowledge NHS dental care is not free either, but do double check with your NHS surgery and get a quote.
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Useful Telephone Numbers and Healthcare Contact Information
999 - Ambulance, Fire engine, Police (emergency)
101 - Ambulance, Fire engine, Police (non-emergency)
111 – NHS advice on symptoms
Emergency Services and Hospitals (log-in required)
GP Updated 2014 (log-in required)
Obstetricians (log-in required)
Opticians (log-in required)
Other Specialists (log-in required)
Useful Internet Links
www.nhs.uk/service-search - You can search all of our service directories from here. Try searching by service name, service type, condition or surgical procedure. You can search by town name or postcode.
www.nhs.uk/planners/yourhealth/pages/prescriptioncosts.aspx - Some people are entitled to free prescriptions because of their age, income or medical condition.
www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/HealthCosts/1126.aspx - People with certain medical conditions can get free NHS prescriptions if they hold a valid medical exemption certificate. Please discuss with your GP.
www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/1039.aspx - Maternity Exemption Certificate. Pregnant women and those who have had a baby in the last 12 months get free NHS prescriptions and NHS dental treatment.
www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/about-the-ehic.aspx - EHIC - European Health Insurance Card offering access to state-provided healthcare in European Economic Area (EEA) countries, including Switzerland, at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free. It will cover your treatment until you return to the UK.
http://www.bupa-intl.com/ - Bupa International –make online service pre-authorisation and claim the bills.
www.bupa.co.uk/individuals/health-assessments 100% covered private health checks
http://nightdoctor.org.uk/services/ private medical services offering home visits
http://www.doctorcall.co.uk/ private medical services offering home visits
Last Updated: 18 Nov 2015