Hospitals in the U.K.
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 (www.nhs.uk) providing free healthcare....
...to 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
- Tel. 999 - The general emergency number for the entire United Kingdom. Call tel. 999 for the police, fire department, ambulance, or coast guard. The European Union standard number of tel. 112 also works.
- Tel. 101 - Call tel. 101 to contact the police in a non-emergency situation.
- 0800 88 77 66 - Call tel. 0800-88-77-66 to receive roadside assistance from the AA (the British Automobile Association). This is not a free service (unless you are a member), but it can come in handy if you break down.
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