3 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE TRAVELING FOR HEALTHCARE IN LONDON
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Updated 23rd September 2021
This article is continuously updated.
Healthcare in London alongside the rest of the UK is ranked as the best in the entire world.
The system is governed by the National Health Service (NHS) which is sponsored by just under 20% of the UK's tax money. The NHS makes it their business to ensure that only the best facilities are available in all of the UK, which makes it an incredibly attractive location to travel to for many medical tourists who cannot afford for any mistakes when it comes to their health.
London is an especially sought-after destination, endowed with a rich history that speaks for itself. Apart from being ranked as having the best healthcare on the globe, the city has a unique variety of museums and historical sites such as Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. Foreigners that travel for healthcare in London often take full advantage of its vibrant tourism scene, from its wide array of medieval architecture to its eclectic collection of shops.
If you're planning a trip to receive healthcare in London, you'll be in for quite the journey! There are, however, a few things you ought to know before you board that plane:
Before entering the UK, travelers need to be officially tested for COVID-19 3 days prior to making their journey. Children under the age of 11 are exempt. Only negative test results will be accepted by travel services and UK authorities, both of which will require it as proof. This will fall away after the 4th October 2021 for those that are fully vaccinated.
Governmental forms also need to be filled out up to 48 hours before entering the country, detailing where one is destined to stay. This is required for both the travel service and UK immigration officials.
After arriving, a second COVID-19 test before or on day 2 is required for everyone over the age of 5, even if vaccinated. If your test results are positive, you’ll need to go into quarantine for 10 days. Those fully vaccinated will be exempt from going into quarantine. One may also be exempt after 5 days of quarantine, provided one can prove they are negative for coronavirus.
Another coronavirus test on or after day 8 will also be required as of the 4th October 2021 for those who are not fully vaccinated.
If you’re planning to stay in the UK for less than 10 days, you’ll still need to book your tests, even if they are booked for a date after your departure.
For those who have recently had COVID, a lateral flow test may give more accurate results than the PCR test.
Those visiting the UK have access to free testing for COVID-19 without requiring an immigration check. Treatment will be freely given to anyone with a positive test result; however one will be denied entry to the UK if the result is positive prior to leaving. Free COVID treatment does not extend to secondary conditions that may have risen as a result of the initial infection, such as long COVID.
To Search for Healthcare Providers in London providing PCR Tests, please click here.
Full Vaccination Status Requirements
Full vaccination demands receiving two shots and self-isolating at least 14 days after treatment (before travel). Only vaccines from the UK, Europe, USA or a British overseas territory will be accepted by UK health authorities. Accompanying these, one requires either an NHS COVID Pass, an EU COVID certificate, a CDC vaccination record card (plus proof of residence) or a government letter stating that one has received full vaccination.
More information on the vaccines approved by UK authorities is provided on the government website, as well as the new requirements for proving your vaccination status (as of 4 October 2021).
Traveling from Red Listed Countries
If you are traveling from a high risk country on the UK’s pandemic red list, extra precautions will be required irrespective of one’s vaccination status. As of 4 October 2021, countries that were formally on the amber list will be reassigned to either being safe (green) or red listed. Those arriving prior to this time are subject to outdated rules.
Only British or Irish nationals will be allowed entry into the UK from red list countries. A negative coronavirus test result from a test taken 3 days prior to travel is needed. Citizens in this position will only be allowed to arrive at select airports in England and Scotland.
After landing, the traveler will need to undergo 10 days of self-isolation at a certified quarantine hotel and undergo 2 coronavirus tests (on or before day 2 and on or after day 8).
These need to be arranged before traveling otherwise one will be steeply fined. Certified quarantine hotels offer quarantine packages that include the 2 tests, transport, accommodation, food and drink. Packages can be arranged through Corporate Travel Management and extensions are mandatory if either test results turn up positive. An alternative plan may be made if the fee is too high, however not everyone is eligible.
1. Free Medical Treatment is Limited
While there are some outdated articles on the internet claiming that the NHS offers free healthcare in London to expats and tourists, that policy has long since fallen away. The NHS offers the following limited selection of free treatments to foreign nationals:
- COVID-19 testing and treatment for confirmed COVID cases
- COVID-19 vaccinations
- Treatment for the majority of infectious diseases including STD’s
- Emergency treatment requiring immediate hospitalization
- Family planning services (not including giving birth, abortions or infertility treatment)
2. Choose the Right Health Insurance
The UK now charges most foreigners for using its healthcare services, which is why it's mandatory to invest in international insurance on top of budgeting wisely. Since healthcare in London is highly prized all over the world, the costs of treatments can be rather pricey. Non-UK citizens will be charged at 150% of the national rate. Those intending to stay longer than 6 months will be charged an additional fee when applying for a visa.
In the past, European nationals could easily opt for healthcare in London using their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Since the UK left the EU, it’s important to check with healthcare authorities in your country if your card is still valid to claim for NHS treatment in the UK. For the majority of European nationals, EHIC cards are no longer valid in the UK for planned medical care. They may still be used to cover for necessary medical treatment or if one happens to have a medical emergency in the UK while visiting.
An S2 form may assist with medical insurance for those from the EU when planning for treatment in London. However this route offers limited coverage by comparison to proper medical insurance, potentially able to sponsor necessary medical treatment. Having additional insurance is also advisable in the event of hidden healthcare costs.
3. Book Your Appointments in Advance
Since healthcare in London is free to all citizens in public hospitals, the waiting lists are notoriously long for surgeries, appointments and many other treatments. Many foreigners prefer to use private hospitals where the waiting lists are not that long, however the fee may be more.
While this is typical of public healthcare in London, the current pandemic has caused unexpected delays for those on waiting lists. Healthcare providers have expanded their services to include telehealth as an option, allowing for consultation prior to receiving medical care abroad.
Make Sure Your Specialty is Covered
Even though healthcare in London is renowned worldwide for its comprehensive services and cutting edge facilities, you will still need to ensure that your needs can be met. Some specialists may be unable to assist you due to lengthy waiting lists and in some cases, there may be no specialists available. For instance, if you are looking for the best alternative medical practitioners, you may have difficulty finding one in London; with the best cosmetic surgeons and Western doctors being more widely available.
Healthcare Providers in London
HealthClic provides Concierge Medicine & 7-Day Private Doctor Home Visits in London. The facility prides itself on personalized care, longevity planning and a focus on the patient-clinician relationship.
Cromwell Hospital in London provides high quality private healthcare to both UK and international patients, with patients visiting from over 140 countries worldwide. The hospital has partnered with over 500 leading consultants across 70 specialties.
BMI The Clementine Churchill Hospital offers health care services in Middlesex and further afield. BMI has a team of experienced healthcare professionals as part of its staff.
BMI The London Independent Hospital is a comprehensive private hospital. Besides General check ups, the facility provides more than 30 different medical specialties, including cardiac, trauma, physiotherapy & rehabilitation
The London Global Practice, is a renowned private global medical practice based in London. The practice has state of the art consultation rooms, nurse treatment rooms and access to the very best laboratory and imaging diagnostics facilities in London.
9 Harley Street is a state-of-the-art outpatient clinic offering access to leading specialists and the highest standards of care.
25 Harley Street is an outpatient center dedicated to providing the highest standards of patient care. 25 Harley Street offers access to expert consultants including heart specialists, endocrinologist doctors, and many more.
Weymouth Street Hospital is widely recognized as one of London’s most luxurious independent hospitals providing first class healthcare across a range of specialties including ENT, Gastroenterology, Gynecology and much more.
Providing world-class treatment Schoen Clinic London, is a highly specialized spinal and orthopedic hospital. The hospital works with Londons leading doctors and consultants.
Schoen Clinic Chelsea Specialises in treating adults, adolescents, and children with eating disorders, anxiety, and depression. It also has a translation service for international patients.
With a platform like Mya Care, you can easily find the specific specialist you are looking for and ensure that your needs can be met.
-  https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/health/coronavirus-rules-you-need-to-follow/coronavirus-if-you-enter-the-uk-from-abroad/
-  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/red-amber-and-green-list-rules-for-entering-england#new-rules
-  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/booking-and-staying-in-a-quarantine-hotel-when-you-arrive-in-england
-  https://www.myhealth.london.nhs.uk/information-for-overseas-visitors
-  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/covid-19-migrant-health-guide
-  https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/visiting-or-moving-to-england/moving-to-england-from-outside-the-european-economic-area-eea/
-  https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=559
-  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/withdrawal-agreement-explainer-for-part-2-citizens-rights
-  https://www.hr.admin.cam.ac.uk/hr-services/relocating-uk/living-uk/healthcare/eligibility-nhs-treatment
-  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/healthcare-for-eu-and-efta-citizens-visiting-the-uk
-  https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/going-abroad-for-treatment/what-is-the-s2-route/
-  https://www.visitlondon.com/traveller-information/essential-information/emergency-services
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