Information for overseas visitors accessing NHS treatment.
The NHS provides free hospital treatment to people who reside lawfully, voluntarily and permanently in the UK for settled purposes. You must live here lawfully and on a settled basis to receive free treatment. If you are not ordinarily resident in the UK, you may have to pay for your care.
NHS trusts have a statutory obligation to establish whether people accessing NHS services are eligible or exempt from paying for the treatment they seek to access in accordance with the UK statutory rules and guidelines.
This duty extends to charging those patients who are found not to be entitled for free NHS treatment and who are not otherwise exempt or covered by a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement or have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge.
We will not withhold treatment that is immediately necessary or urgent. However, we reserve the right to withhold treatment that, in the opinion of a clinician, is not immediately necessary or urgent. For non-urgent care provided to overseas visitors we will require full payment in advance of treatment commencing. The decision to treat will be based on clinical opinion provided by the treating physician.
British citizens and ordinary resident rule
The UK system work on the residency rule and not citizenship. This means that if a British citizen resides in a country other than the United Kingdom, he/she may not be eligible for free NHS treatment except where other exemptions apply. These exemptions can be found on the Ordinary Residence: British Citizens and Family members page.
Emergency care is any treatment that is urgent and immediately necessary. However, it is only the treatment provided in our emergency department that is free.
Any other emergency treatment administered in any other part of the hospital is chargeable and payment will be pursued.
Maternity treatment and Neo-natal admissions are regarded as an emergency treatment and will never be withheld. The service will be provided but is chargeable.
The patient will be invoiced and payment will be sort. If payment is not forthcoming, appropriate/recommended recovery processes will be followed.
Baseline questions and eligibility
To establish patients eligibility to free NHS care, we may ask you about your residency status in the UK when you attend our emergency department or register for any clinical appointment or we receive a GP referral for you. We will ask everyone the same questions regardless of nationality, if you own property in the UK, paid National Insurance or UK taxes in the past.
Proof of eligibility
In order to establish your eligibility for free NHS treatment you may be asked to provide at least one document from each category below. The list is not exhaustive and may change depending on your individual circumstances.
Non-urgent advice: Proof of identity
The following documents can be used as proof of identity:
Current passport including visa if applicable
Valid Residence permit issued by the UK Home Office
EU or Swiss National identity photo-card
Valid UK photographic driving licence
Valid armed forces or police photographic identity card
Application Registration Card (For Asylum Seeker)
Please note that a proof of your right to reside in the UK required (i.e. UK or EEA passport, EEA national ID photo card, visa or residence permit issued by the Home Office, Biometric Residence Card or Permit, Asylum Registration Card or valid UK armed or police forces photo ID).
If your entry to the UK is dependent on a spouse or you are a family member of an EU national, then please also provide their documents as above (plus a copy of any marriage certificate if sponsored by your spouse).
This will help us to determine your eligibility more quickly and avoid delays to your treatment.
Non-urgent advice: Proof of address
Recent original utility bill, phone bills excluding mobile phone bill
Council tax bill for the current year
Bank, building society or credit union statement or passbook
Recent original mortgage statement from a recognised lender
Current council or housing association rent book or tenancy agreement
Notification letter from the Department for Work and Pensions / HM Revenue and Customs confirming your right to benefits or a state pension.
These requirements may change from 1st January 2021 as a result of Brexit.
The overseas patients team
We are responsible for identifying overseas patients as early as possible. We will assess patients in accordance with charging regulations and apply the correct funding stream.
Our office is in the hospital' main concourse.
Phone: 01223 216999
We are happy to help with any questions you have.
We will take copies of your documents if we have asked you to provide them.
It is your responsibility to prove that you are entitled to free NHS treatment. If you do not provide satisfactory evidence to support your claim, you will be liable for the cost of any treatment provided to you now or in the future until otherwise decided/proven.
Understanding your treatment cost
If we are unable to verify your entitlement to free NHS treatment, or you are a chargeable patient, you will be asked to make payment for your treatment costs. This payment will be based on your initial clinical diagnosis and we will provide you with an estimate of the cost in advance.
This cost may increase as your treatment progresses. We will keep you informed as soon as the information becomes available.
EU citizens accessing NHS treatment
The UK has left the EU and the transition period will end on 31st December 2020. Please contact us if you wish to access NHS treatment after this date to confirm your chargeable status.
If you wish to settle in the UK, please visit the government website for more information.
Non-urgent advice: Paying for treatment online
You can access our secure online payment system 24 hours a day. Our payments system is powered by the GOV.UK payments system.
Please remember to quote your invoice number as the reference when making payment online so that your payment can be allocated to your account and invoiced correctly. There is no card fee or additional charge to use the online payment system. You w
ill receive an email confirmation that your payment is successful, this will be your receipt/proof of payment. You don’t need to send it to us unless we expressly ask you to do so.
Some card issuers may block payments to prevent fraud especially when making an unusually large amount, international payment or an unusual pattern of transactions. In the event this occurs, please contact your bank to authorise the transaction.
Please contact us on 01223 126999 if you encounter a problem with the payment system.
We may share non-clinical information about you with other government agencies for the purpose of confirming your entitlement to free NHS care. We may also share same information with the Trust’s Debt Collection Agency for the purpose of debt recovery.
Under the immigration rules 320, 321, 321A and 322, a person with outstanding debts of over £500 for NHS treatment that are not paid within two (2) months of invoicing, may be denied any further immigration applications to enter or remain in the UK. In the absence of prompt full settlement or a reasonable repayment schedule, non-clinical information relating to this debt is provided routinely to the Home Office and may be used to apply the above immigration rules. The information will remain active for the purpose of the above rules until the debt is settled and a record retained, subject to normal limitation periods.