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Emergency medical care in Scotland for non-EU citizens

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northern virginia
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Emergency medical care in Scotland for non-EU citizens

How does the system work? Of course, you go to the appropriate facility for whatever ails you, but does the NHS cover visitors, or is it mandatory to have your own coverage when traveling internationally, specifically to Scotland?

Thanks in advance!

Glasgow
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1. Re: Emergency medical care in Scotland for non-EU citizens

It's absolutely essential to have proper travel insurance.

As I understand it, if a visitor goes to what we call Accident and Emergency minor treatment will be free.However if a hospital stay is involved you will be charged and thus insurance is required.

Scotland
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for Scotland
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2. Re: Emergency medical care in Scotland for non-EU citizens

If you consult a doctor ( or nurse ) at a local health centre or medical practice you will be asked for payment. You'll get a receipt which you can use to claim back the money from your own insurance policy.

United Kingdom
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for South Ayrshire, Glasgow
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3. Re: Emergency medical care in Scotland for non-EU citizens

I don't think it is mandatory, but it is wise. You will be charged, with I think the exception of initial emergency treatment.

Sheffield, United...
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4. Re: Emergency medical care in Scotland for non-EU citizens

<<specifically to Scotland?>>

NHS is the same throughout the UK. In the event of an emergency you WILL be treated free regardless. No one will be riffling through your pockets first to see if you have a credit card/insurance. Any problems call 999 and ask for police/ambulance/fire service/coastguard as required. Depending on the circumstances you will get a bill at some point, so travel insurance IS essential. At one time this didn’t happen, but due to “health tourists” who came to the UK to get “free” medical care, costing the NHS a LOT of money, charges are now applied. Look at dh.gov.uk/en/…DH_074387 for some general guidance. The costs are considerably less than in the US. The NHS is not a moneymaking business, my triple bypass cost (the NHS) around £7500.

Ivan

Fife, United Kingdom
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for St Andrews
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5. Re: Emergency medical care in Scotland for non-EU citizens

It used to depend on what GP you saw when I worked in the NHS - some charged and some didn't feel it was appropriate - but it's ALWAYS wise to have insurance.

W x

East Sussex, United...
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6. Re: Emergency medical care in Scotland for non-EU citizens

<< How does the system work ? >>

The system 'works' by UK residents and taxpayers having a sizeable proportion of their income being deducted at source to pay for it. Its not ' free' in any sense of the word. Anyone coming to the UK as a vistor/tourist should ensure they have adequate insurance to cover any eventuality..

Edited: 19 October 2010, 22:50
Scotland
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for Oban
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7. Re: Emergency medical care in Scotland for non-EU citizens

Let me give a real life example that happened to me, and you can extrapolate the implications if I had not lived in this country.

I live in Edinburgh, and had an accident in a hotel near Manchester, resulting in a suspected broken ankle. The hotel called an ambulance and I was assessed and taken to the nearest hospital A & E. I was given morphine for the pain, and x-rayed. When it turned out to be torn ligaments (which had dislodged a chip of bone), I was discharged. I was given strong painkillers, a pair of crutches, and told to visit my GP to get a referral to my local fracture clinic. They then asked if they could phone me a taxi. At midnight. In Macclesfield.

I got a taxi back to the hotel, got practically carried to my room by the staff, and assessed my options. Luckily, I was on company business, so in the morning my employer arranged a car service to take me home to Edinburgh, where I went to stay with my sister (I could put no weight on the ankle at all) and did, indeed, get an appointment at the local fracture clinic a couple of days later.

Now imagine you are a tourist when the above has happened. Your "free" treatment stops at the point where you are handed the crutches and the taxi is phoned. I was even given a bill for £6.50 for the painkillers, as that was a prescription, and that's the standard prescription charge (in England).

You would have to pay for the follow up treatment. You would have to pay for medical appliances. You would have to pay transportation costs (as I, or my employer did). And that's for a fairly minor accident. Now think about repatriation costs, or needing a whole row on a plane for a broken leg, or perhaps air ambulance........

I know from the Air Travel TA forum that Travel Insurance isn't as widespread in the US, but it really should be considered essential.

Oxfordshire
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8. Re: Emergency medical care in Scotland for non-EU citizens

"How does the system work? Of course, you go to the appropriate facility for whatever ails you"

Actually you don't.

Depending on the circumstances, you dial 999 if it's really, really urgent (like a heart attack) go to the nearest A&E (what Americans call "emergency room", only without the downmarket overtones the term carries in the US) if it's less so, the nearest NHS walk-in centre for minorish but urgent things in big city centres, or a nearby GP in residential areas. You don't select the "best place for pediatrics", or gynaecology, say.

nhs.uk/servicedirectories/… is a tool to find the nearest of these places: posh hotel hall porters may well refer you to private doctors - which gets you into serious payment from the start. And they're rarely equipped to deal with emergencies anyway.

As others have explained, the emergency is then dealt with for free: most doctors and hospitals then charge people without an EHIC card (which includes Britons who don't live in the EU: the criterion is membership of an EU health scheme, not citizenship) once it's no longer an emergency.

But because paying is so rare, some doctors still believe it's more trouble to set up an invoicing system than just to treat everyone free. Such people are getting fewer.

You don't need insurance, and bills here are very small by US standards anyway. But it's certainly wise to have it.

Bingley, United...
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for Edinburgh
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9. Re: Emergency medical care in Scotland for non-EU citizens

"You don't need insurance, and bills here are very small by US standards anyway. But it's certainly wise to have it."

Especially if the treatment involves an extended stay as it will also cover non-medical costs for family members as well as repatriation costs if you cannot use your original flight tickets. In extreme cases it covers you for a trip home as cargo

glasgow scotland
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for Glasgow
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10. Re: Emergency medical care in Scotland for non-EU citizens

My Wife had the same scenario as Dootsie only in reverse, we were in the Dom Rep and had exactly the same with the torn ligaments.

Had we not had travel insurance the bill would have been over £600, as it was we just paid a £100 excess.

So the moral is get insured!