// Information for overseas patients - University Health Service
  • Menu
  • Home
  • Secure login
  • Telephone: (023) 8055 7531
University Health Service
Page specific image

Information for overseas patients

Our practice provides primary care services, under the NHS, to eligible patients and private patient services to ineligible patients. This page is designed to explain more about the NHS.

Am I eligible for NHS services?
This is quite a complicated question to answer and the rules can change. These policies are set by the Department of Health in England, so in the first instance please visit the links below giving advice on eligibility. Alternatively, please visit reception to ask if you are eligible to register for NHS primary care (ie general practice/family doctor) services.

Please remember the eligibility criteria for primary care services (like those performed at our practice) are different to the eligibility criteria for secondary care services (ie those performed at a hospital or clinic). You may therefore be eligible for NHS primary care services but at the same time, be ineligible for NHS secondary care services. This would result in you receiving a bill from any hospital that treats you.

Are NHS services free?
Absolutely not! In 2015/16 the NHS budget cost the UK over £116bn (ie >£116,000,000,000).

This cost is met by UK tax payers through direct and indirect taxation on every part of their financial lives. If you are not eligible for NHS services (see above) you should expect to pay for your own treatment.

NHS services are, however, free at the point of delivery. So, eligible patients do not have to pay for the treatments they receive. The exceptions include medicines (a fixed price is charged per item to those ineligible for free prescriptions), NHS dental care, NHS eye care, etc.

What is the NHS?
The National Health Service (NHS) is a country-wide state-run healthcare scheme that was launched in the UK in 1948. It provides free at the point of delivery healthcare services to eligible patients (see above).

The system is organised by the UK's central governments (eg the Department of Health) that makes some large scale decisions and funding distributions, but that also devolves further decisions down to NHS England, who in turn develop further decisions and budgetary control to smaller, more local organisations, such as Care Commissioning Groups [formerly Primary Care Trusts] (eg Southampton City CCG).

This structure is constantly being modified and adapted in light of resources and political agendas. As a practice, our targets, service provision and budget are determined by these external bodies.

I want to see a specialist, but how do I arrange that?
Due to the unique funding system used by the NHS, GP's are expected to not only act as advocates for their patients, but also as the gatekeepers to other services, to help ensure the system does not provide un-necessary or inappropriate services.

This means that you cannot request or demand an appointment with an NHS specialist unless your GP considers it necessary. This is different to many countries where you can simply call up and see a specialist of your choice, whenever you please.

You can however see a private specialist, but you will bear the full cost of the services and treatments they provide.

I am not happy with the waiting time I have been given
If you are unhappy with the length of time you have been asked to wait to see a NHS specialist or secondary care service, you can of course opt to see someone privately. You will however bear the full cost of the services and treatments they provide, although it will normally be quicker.

Most specialist require a referral from a GP even in this circumstances, so we will have to provide you with a private referral letter. We may charge a fee for this service.

I am not happy with the NHS specialist's opinion
Your GP may refer you to a different NHS specialist, but please remember the obligation that rests with your GP to act as a gatekeeper to NHS services.

If your NHS GP does not feel that this would be beneficial, you may of course elect to get a private specialist's opinion at your own cost (see above). You may of course, also prefer to see a private GP (at your own cost).