If you are a visitor to the UK and need or want to use the services at Kingston Hospital, it is important that you know whether or not you are eligible for free treatment.
Overseas visitors may be liable to pay for services they receive, so you should check first to see if you will receive a bill.
How we apply the regulations
Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has a legal obligation to establish whether or not you are an overseas visitor who should pay for healthcare.
This duty falls under the Hospital Charging Regulations. We apply these consistently, using a robust and common-sense approach.
Hospital treatment is free to people classed as UK residents. This is defined as when a person is “living lawfully in the United Kingdom voluntarily and for settled purposes, as part of the regular order of their life”.
Anybody who can demonstrate they lawfully reside in the UK is unlikely to incur charges for treatment.
You may be asked to prove that you qualify – and determining residency is not always simply a matter of paying UK taxes and National Insurance, being registered with a GP or owning property in the UK.
Please note that urgent services will be provided to any patient – even if you have not paid a deposit. This covers life-saving treatment, or actions that stop a condition from becoming immediately life-threatening.
However, non-urgent or elective services will not be provided unless the estimated full charge is received in advance.
Services exempt from charges
- Accident and Emergency (A&E) services. However, this does not include any follow-up services as an inpatient or outpatient.
- Some primary care services provided at walk-in centres.
- Family planning (does not include termination of pregnancy)
- Diagnosis and treatment of specified infectious diseases and sexually transmitted infections.
- Treatment for a physical or mental condition caused by:
- Female genital mutilation
- Domestic violence
- Sexual violence
Urgent treatment for overseas visitors
This covers services that our clinicians do not consider immediately necessary, but which cannot wait until you return home.
We will try to secure payment before treatment but if that is unsuccessful the treatment will not be delayed. However, you will be required to settle your bill during or after the treatment.
Non-urgent treatment for overseas visitors
This means routine elective services that could wait until you return home. Such services will not be provided unless you pay the full estimated cost in advance.
Our decision as to whether treatment is urgent or non-urgent can depend on when you can reasonably be expected to return home. That decision may be reassessed if your return home is postponed for valid reasons, or your medical condition changes unexpectedly.
Visitors from the EEA and Switzerland
If you are not insured in your country for free healthcare services when visiting the UK, you will be charged at 150% of the standard NHS rates.
Visitors from the rest of the world
We recommend you are covered through personal medical insurance for the duration of your visit.
If you use our services you will be charged 150% of the standard NHS rate, unless you or the treatment fall into an exemption category.
Immigration Health Surcharge
If you are in the UK for more than six months, you may need to pay this as part of your visa application.
If you are from outside the EEA and have paid the immigration health surcharge, your treatment will not be exempt from charging until the Home Office confirms your application has been granted.
Those from the EEA should bring a copy of their EHIC, a passport and evidence of study.
Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements
The UK has these with some non-EEA countries. However, there are variations in the level of free healthcare provided. Please check with the Overseas Visitors Team and do not assume all your services will be covered.
If the Trust is satisfied you are an overseas visitor, we must charge you for the relevant services provided.
If you refuse to pay or say you cannot pay, a payment plan may be negotiated at our discretion.
Overseas visitors with travel insurance will be required to pay for their treatment and claim from their insurer when they get home.
The chargeable visitor should note that outstanding debts must be reported to the Home Office.
After December 2020/Brexit, unless the UK has made an individual agreement with EEA countries for reciprocal arrangemnet, EU visitors will be chargeable.
You can find out more at http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/AboutNHSservices/uk-visitors/Pages/accessing-nhs-services.aspx
If you have any questions, please contact our Overseas Visitors Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0208 973 5245/5319