In the UK, primary care services are free of charge to all, whether
registering as an NHS patient, or as a temporary patient. For secondary care services, the UK’s healthcare system is residence-based and you will need to pay for some things such as eye tests, dental treatment and prescriptions unless you're entitled to exemptions. For more information on NHS entitlements, please refer to the Migrant Health Guide.
Although NHS guidance clearly outlines that a GP practice cannot refuse a patient because they do not have identification or proof of address. Many people living in the UK find it impossible to access mainstream health services – despite being fully entitled to them – due to fear, not knowing the system, having to pay charges or being wrongly turned away...
If you're unsure about your rights or what you can access contact Citizen's Advice or refer to the Guide produced by Doctors of the World and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants for basic advice.
DOCTORS OF THE WORLD
Everyone in the UK has the right to free care from a GP.
If you don’t have proof of ID or address, you can still register. Immigration status or nationality don’t matter - reception won’t ask for immigration documents and won’t share your information with the Home Office unless a serious crime is involved.
However, if you are concerned, Doctors of the World run clinics and advocacy programmes in London that provide medical care, information and practical support to people who feel excluded such as destitute migrants, sex workers and people with no fixed address.
If you're not sure how to get the help you need on the NHS, use this checklist to guide you:
Call NHS 111 if you urgently need medical help or advice but it's not a life-threatening situation. You can also call if you're not sure which NHS service you need.
Call 999 if someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.
Go to a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit or urgent treatment centre, if you have a minor illness or injury (cuts, sprains or rashes).
Ask a local pharmacist for advice – a pharmacist can give you advice about many common minor illnesses, such as diarrhoea, minor infections, headaches etc.
Make an appointment with a GP if you're feeling unwell and it's not an emergency.
For information about conditions and treatments, read the NHS Health A-Z guides.
CORONAVIRUS TESTING AND TREATMENT
Overseas visitors, including anyone living here without permission, will not be charged by NHS England for testing or treatment.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has set up the COVID-19 Migrant Information Service, an online platform that provides multilingual information on COVID-19 measures and support in the UK. The aim is to support migrants who may face linguistic barriers in navigating complex information.
Find health information and advice about COVID-19 on the NHS website.
Additional advice and guidance is available on GOV.UK
PATIENT HEALTH CHARITIES & HELPLINES
(in alphabetical order)