NHS treatment is not classed as a public fund for immigration purposes and can be accessed by person regardless of their immigration status, including a person who is subject to the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) condition. However, a person’s immigration status will affect whether they are required to pay for some types of treatment.
Primary NHS healthcare is delivered through GP practices, NHS walk-in centres, dentists, pharmacists and optometrists, and these services can be accessed by everybody for free, regardless of their immigration status. A person may need to pay for prescriptions and dental treatment if none of the exemptions based on age, income or medical conditions apply.
Most types of secondary and community NHS healthcare are chargeable to people who are considered to be ‘overseas visitors’, unless an exemption applies. Most people applying for leave to remain will have had to pay the NHS surcharge (Immigration Health Charge), when they made their application, in order to be exempt from charging for secondary healthcare. When treatment is chargeable to a person, it must be paid for up front, unless the treatment is deemed to be urgent or immediately necessary. Therefore a person may be denied treatment if they are unable to pay for it.
This information summarises how a person’s immigration status affects their entitlement to NHS primary and secondary care in England. For more information, see Public Health England’s comprehensive migrant health guide.
For information about NHS treatment for overseas visitors in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, where different rules apply, see: