Dealing with Entitlements to NHS treatment

Entitlements to free NHS treatment for people from abroad. What help with healthcare costs can you get if you are in low income

Your The NHS (National Healthcare Services) is the public healthcare system in the UK through which the majority of healthcare in the country is provided. Even though a large number of its services are free, there are others which have to be paid for. This article will introduce (1) some of the free hospital treatments you are entitled to if you are coming from abroad, and (2) some of the options for financial support available to people on a low income.

Which people from abroad are entitled to free hospital treatment?

Firstly, you need to know that there are some healthcare treatments provided by the NHS which are available free of charge for everyone, regardless of the length of your stay in the UK. Please, find a list of these services below:
– Treatment for accidents and emergencies (your treatment will be free unless you get removed from the emergency department into a hospital, in which case you might be charged for your hospital treatment)
– Compulsory psychiatric treatment
– Treatment for certain communicable diseases (tuberculosis, cholera, food poisoning, malaria, meningitis and pandemic influenza, testing for the HIV virus and counselling following a test)
– Family planning services

Yet, only some people from abroad can receive all NHS treatments free of charge.  In order to find out whether you are entitled to free healthcare treatments, please check if the following conditions apply to you:

+You have been living legally in the UK for at least 12 months and you did not come to the UK for private medical treatment (temporary absences from the UK for up to 3 months will not  disrupt your eligibility)
+You are a former UK resident returning from abroad
+You are temporary working abroad (but normally work in the UK), have at least 10 years continuous residence in the UK and have been abroad for less than 5 years
+You have been granted a leave to enter or remain as a spouse
+You are receiving a UK war disablement pension or a war widows` pension
+You are an asylum seeker (awaiting decision on your asylum application) or have been granted exceptional leave to remain or refugee status.
+You are imprisoned in the UK or detained by UK immigration authorities
+You are a UK pensioner who spends up to 6 months a year living in another country from the European Economic Area but you are not a resident of this country.
+You are a student following a course of study which lasts at least 6 months, or is substantially funded by the UK government.

! Remember, your entitlement to free NHS treatment depends on the length and type of your residence in the UK, not your nationality.

! Remember, if you are entitled to free NHS hospital treatment, you spouse, civil partner and dependent children are also entitled to it but only if they live permanently with you in the UK.

What help with health costs can you get if you are on a low income?

There are a number of medical charges for which you can get financial help: prescription charges, dental charges, sight tests, vouchers towards the cost of glasses and contact lenses, travel costs to and from hospital for NHS treatment as well as travelling abroad for treatment, wigs and fabric supports (e.g., abdominal support, spinal support, support tights).

The requirements for financial support with each one of these treatments vary and this is why we would recommend that you check the list of requirements for the treatment which interests you at the website of Adviceguide.

In all cases, you will be entitled to free treatment if you are on Income Support, income-based Jobseeker`s Allowance, income-based Support Allowance or the guarantee credit part of Pension Credit. In this case, your partner and children will also be entitled to free treatment. If you are getting Working Tax Credit and/or Child Tax Credit, your eligibility to free treatment will depend on your income.

Yet, even if you do not qualify for free treatments for any of the medical procedure mentioned above, you might still be able to receive support under the NHS Low Income Scheme. In this case, the amount of financial help you can get will depend on the amount of your income.  Depending on your income, you can get a Full Health Certificate or a Limited Health Certificate. Follow this link to learn more about this certificates and the help they give you access to.

To apply for either the Full Health Certificate or the Limited Health Certificate, you need to complete the form HC1 and send it to the address below (the HC1 form is available from local benefit offices, NHS hospitals and some GPs).

NHS Business Services Authority
Sandyford House, Archibald Terrace, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE2 1DB
Tel: 0845 850 1166, E-mail:, Website:

! Remember, you do not need to have a problem in order to apply for a certificate. The earlier you apply the better. If you need to pay for a health treatment before having obtained a certificate under the low income scheme, you can get a refund for your charge. You will need to fill the form HC5 to claim your refund, which is available from local benefit offices, NHS hospitals, and some GPs and send it to the address given above.

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