Who is an overseas patient?
An overseas patient is someone who does not legally and ordinarily reside in the United Kingdom and does not permanently live in the UK. If you are visiting the UK, or have been living outside the UK for more than 3 months, you may have to pay for NHS hospital treatment whilst you are here. This is regardless of whether you are a British citizen, were born here, or have lived or worked here in the past.
If you are on holiday or visiting the United Kingdom and need urgent treatment that cannot wait until you return home, you will be afforded the same standard of care as any NHS patient. The only difference is that some overseas visitors may have to pay for their NHS hospital treatment; while for others there are agreements in place between international governments to cover the cost of treatment. These agreements do not however, cover treatments for pre-existing conditions or conditions diagnosed overseas, unless treatment is required to alleviate the condition from becoming progressively worse before the patient can reasonably be expected to return to their home country. Any exemption will be wholly dependent on you proving your legal residential status in such a country.
If you are visiting the UK from an EU country and your country of residence issues European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC), this must be shown as evidence to prove your eligibility for exempt NHS treatment, should your medical condition have arisen during your visit, failure to show this document will result in charges being raised to you for the costs of your treatment.
What is the Trust’s obligation to overseas patients?
The Trust is legally obliged under Department of Health Regulations to identify and charge overseas patients for any hospital treatment they receive, should they be unable to prove their eligibility for exempt NHS treatment. If you can prove that you have lived in the UK legally for the last 12 months or more, and have a right to do so, then you may be entitled to free NHS hospital treatment.
Examples of acceptable proof of right of residence are a valid passport, national identity card, and entry clearance documents such as valid visa, valid to enter/remain stamp.
Examples of acceptable proof of residence are a housing contract, utility bills and bank statements.
What will happen when I arrive at hospital?
Upon arrival at hospital you may be asked to confirm how long you have lived in the UK.
If you have not, or cannot prove that you have lived in the UK for the last 12 months and are legally entitled to do so, you may be interviewed by a member of the Trusts Overseas Visitor Team, during which time any of your questions can be answered. The interview may not always happen during your first visit, so please be aware that you can be asked for interview at any of your subsequent appointments and/or be contacted by letter or telephone.
You may be asked to sign an Undertaking to Pay Form, which confirms your details, home address, and a copy of the Trust's overseas patient terms and conditions.
This information is held by Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and the Department of Health to ensure the NHS resources are utilized appropriately and maintain agreements with international governments to recover the cost of treatment, where appropriate.
You may be required to pay for your treatment and the Overseas Visitor Officer will be able to advise you on this. If you are liable to pay then the cost of your treatment will be explained and you will be asked to pay before you receive your treatment where medically appropriate. If the complete cost of the treatment is not known at this point you will be given an estimated cost and you will be entitled for a refund if this is more than the actual cost of your treatment. If your interview takes place after your first visit or during later appointments and you are subject to charges, these will be raised retrospectively.
What will I have to do?
If you are visiting the UK and you believe you are exempt from payment please bring your proof of identity and other documentation as listed above, ready for review. If you believe you are liable to pay, please ensure you have your forms of ID and means of payment with you. The Trust accepts the following forms of payment:
- Credit/Debit Card (excluding AMEX)
- Bank transfer
- Cheque (only if submitted and cleared in advance of treatment)
When you pay you will be provided with a receipt for your records.
If you are unable to pay the full amount prior to receiving your treatment, it will not affect the level of urgent care you will receive.
Where can I obtain further information?
If you have any questions please contact the our Overseas Team who will be able to help at:
Jean-Pierre Machado, Telephone: 0207 829 8859 – Email: Jean.Machado@nhs.net
You can also find further information at the Department of Health overseas visitor’s pages.