United Kingdom

In emergencies call 112 or 999 to obtain help.


Accessing care

If you are temporarily residing in the UK, you can prove your right to treatment with a European Health Insurance Card issued by Finland. A passport is currently not accepted as a certificate of right to treatment. Medically necessary treatment refers to treatment that cannot wait for your return home. You may need such treatment in case of acute illness or accident. You can also receive treatment related to pregnancy and childbirth or to a chronic illness. The need for treatment must emerge during the course of your stay.

With a European Health Insurance card, you will receive treatment on the same terms and at the same price as the locals. If you were required to pay all the costs of treatment yourself, you might be able to apply for reimbursement from Kela retrospectively.

By presenting your European Health Insurance Card, you can obtain treatment in treatment facilities of the NHS. Please note that different rules may apply depending on which part of the country you are visiting. More information is available on the NHS website, where you can find the contact information, by region, of NHS-contracted doctors, dentists and hospitals.

Information about using health services in non-emergency cases is available by calling the United Kingdom´s National Health Service (NHS) service number 111 and also in NHS 111 online service.

When accessing care, you should be prepared that is might be challenging to make an appointment with a general practitioner with a NSH contract. Thus, it is recommended to take out a comprehensive travel insurance when travelling to the United Kingdom.

Be aware that you are not, however, entitled to treatment by presenting a European Health Insurance Card in the Isle of Man or the so-called Channel Islands, i.e. Guernsey (including Guernsey, Alderney, Herm and Sark) or in Jersey, as the islands in question are British Crown Dependencies and do not fall within the sphere of EU or EEA regulations. The following overseas territories also do not belong to the European Union: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

Sudden illness

Doctor

See a general practitioner (GP) who has an agreement with the NHS. When you show your European Health Insurance Card and ID at the appointment, treatment is free of charge. To see a specialist you usually need to have a GP´s referral. If your treatment lasts for over 14 days, you need to register as a patient either temporarily (less than three months) or permanently. You can find more information about booking an appointment and registering as a patient on NHS’s web page.

In the case of relatively minor injuries, you can also visit a walk-in centre in larger towns. These will treat you without an appointment free of charge.

You can also call NHS 111 at any time for help in issues relating to health and illnesses. You will be directed to the closest surgery that is open, where you receive the requisite care for your illnesses or injury.

Dentist

If you need dental care, go to a dentist contracted to the NHS. You have to register yourself as a patient before meeting a NHS dentist. When booking an appointment, you should mention that you want treatment as an NHS patient. Show your European Health Insurance Card and ID at the appointment. You will pay a standard non-refundable charge for all NHS dental treatment that is clinically necessary.

Medication

In addition to doctors, nurses are allowed to prescribe medication in the case of minor illnesses. When you go to a pharmacy to collect your prescription medicines, present your European Health Insurance Card and ID. You have to pay a non-refundable charge for prescriptions at the pharmacy. It is possible to get an exemption from the cost of medicine. You can ask your doctor about it when he/she is writing the prescription. The right to exemption is also checked at the pharmacy.

Hospital care

In general, apart from emergency care you can access hospital treatment if referred by a doctor, a dentist or an optician. In emergencies, you can go directly to the hospital´s Accident & Emergency department. Not all hospitals have one. When you go to a hospital, show your European Health Insurance Card and ID to obtain clinically necessary treatment and medicines free of charge. You can usually choose the hospital, as long as the unit has a contract with the NHS.

In emergencies, ambulance transport to the hospital is free. If your illness requires you to use special transport when returning to Finland, you will be liable for the travel costs in their entirety. You are recommended to take out a travel insurance that covers these costs.

Read more about suddenly falling ill in Europe.

Read more about reimbursement of costs of treatment abroad.

Useful websites

If you want to travel to the UK for treatment without prior authorisation after 1 January 2021, the UK is not legally obliged to treat you. Find out from the treatment provider whether you will be accepted for treatment and how much the treatment will cost. Please note that Kela will not reimburse any costs incurred from treatment if you have specifically travelled to the UK to use health care services. Instead, you can still seek treatment in the UK if you have prior authorisation from Kela. There is more information on seeking treatment with prior authorisation on our page Seeking treatment abroad with a prior authorisation.

You can search for private physicians, dentists, hospitals and other healthcare providers in the UK on the Private Healthcare UK website.

You can find information about private physicians on the Specialist Info search service. Relatively few GPs operate in the private sector.

Indicative information about the tariffs of healthcare providers operating within the NHS system in England is available on the Gov.uk website. Information about tariffs is updated annually.

Quality and safety of treatment

  • In England, the quality of treatment is monitored by the Care Quality Commission, which monitors and inspects the quality and safety of care given by all healthcare service providers operating in the region. The site also provides regularly updated quality data and reports on all healthcare service providers.
  • Treatment provided in Northern Ireland is monitored by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA). RQIA regularly inspects and reviews health and social care providers operating in the region.
  • In Scotland, the Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) monitors the services provided by the NHS as well as those offered in the private sector.
  • The Healthcare Inspectorate Wales (HIW) is the independent inspectorate and regulator of healthcare in Wales.

In the event of treatment injuries, the legislation and patient insurance of the country providing the treatment is always applied. In case you are unhappy with the treatment you received, you should primarily try to sort the matter out with the treatment provider.

Healthcare system

The regional governments (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) make decisions related to health policy in Great Britain and Northern Ireland regionally. Despite the diversity in the way the systems are organized, some aspects of the regulatory framework continue to operate on a United Kingdom-wide basis in line with European standards.

The National Health Service (NHS) is the responsible organization for public healthcare. Each of the four nations have their own separate NHS that provide health services. Although the volume of services provided in the private sector remains small relative to service provision by NHS providers, it is growing.