Hospitals in the U.K.

A London hospital (Photo by Herry Lawford)
A London hospital

What to do if you get very sick while visiting Great Britain

In an emergency, call tel. 999 for an ambulance.

In a non-emergency, you can call the NHS medical advice helpline at tel. 111.

Also handy: British chemists (pharmacies), which tend to have more leeway in distributing medications that in the U.S.

Aren't U.K. hospitals free?

Yes, the U.K. famously has the National Health Service ( providing free healthcare.... its own citizens.

About a decade ago, tired of medical tourism (foreigners coming to the U.K. for free treatment), Britain passed laws forcing non-citizens to pay for and non-emergency healthcare received in the U.K. (Note: I am speaking mainly to my fellow Americans and our Canadian neighbors here. Citizens of most E.E.A. countries in Europe can use their EHIC cards in Britain, and residents of New Zealand and Australia can also get free health care in the U.K. thanks to governmental reciprocal health care agreements.)

However, in an emergency, you can still get treated for free—so long as your care and treatment is limited to the Accident and Emergency department of a hospital run by the National Health Service. 

What about travel health insurance?

You should also look into and consider some travel health insurance. » more

Emergency evacuation insurance links


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