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British citizens receive free health care through the National Health Service (NHS), and private treatment can also be purchased through organizations such as BUPA.
Many tourists believe that the NHS will provide free health care for everyone, regardless of their nationality, but this is not always the case. The NHS will generally treat the following free of charge: Anyone who has been in the UK for at least 12 months; Anyone who has come to the UK to take up permanent residence; Refugees, or people who are seeking refuge in the UK; Students and trainees whose courses require more than 12 weeks employment during their first year.
The NHS will also provide the following services free of charge: Treatment in Accident & Emergency departments; Emergency ambulance transport to hospital; Compulsory psychiatric treatment.
Non-emergency treatment and dental work will generally have to be paid for (which can be extremely expensive). It is therefore vital that your holiday insurance policy covers all of these, and any activities that you plan to do whilst on your holiday.
More detailed informaton about health care for overseas visitors can be found here.
EU citizens (as well as citizens of Switzerland) may be entitled to free or reduced-cost medical treatment on the NHS – provided that they have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). (This is the replacement for the old E111 form.) This must be obtained before you leave your home country. You can learn how to apply for the EHIC here.
Some non-EU countries have reciprocal health agreements with the UK, meaning their citizens can obtain free or reduced-cost treatment in London hospitals. It is usually necessary to provide a passport as proof of residence.
You can find a full list of these countries here here.
Please note: The United States and Canada do not have agreements with the UK, and a comprehensive travel insurance policy is recommended.
Most of London’s tourist attractions have facilities for the disabled. But hotels, pubs and restaurants should always be checked out beforehand.
Artsline can advise you on whether tourist attractions and entertainment venues have disabled access and adapted facilities. Telephone 0207 388 2227, or visit artsline.org.uk.
Dial-a-ride offers a door-to-door service for Londoners with mobility problems, and those who are unable to use public transport. Trips must be booked in advance, and you must be a member. Telephone 0207 309 8900, or visit tfl.gov.uk/dial-a-ride.
Emergencies: for police, ambulance or fire service, call 999
Alcoholics Anonymous: call 0845 769 7555 (10 AM to 10 PM), or visit alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk
British Pregnancy Advisory Service: for advice, emergency contraceptives and pregnancy tests, and referrals for private abortions, call 0845 730 4030, or visit bpas.org
Childline: If you’re young and you’re in trouble or danger, call 0800 1111 (24 hours), or visit childline.org.uk
Citizens Advice Bureau: for free and impartial advice on legal, financial and personal matters, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
Narcotics Anonymous: for advice and details of local meetings, call 0300 999 1212 (24 hours), or visit ukna.org
NHS Direct: For free non-emergency 24-hour medical advice call 0845 4647, or visit nhsdirect.nhs.uk
Rape & Sexual Abuse Support: for free advice and support, call 0808 802 9999 (noon–2.30 PM, and 7 PM–9.230 PM daily), or visit nhs.uk/sexualhealth
Samaritans: If you’re suffering from any kind of emotional upset and need someone to talk to, call 0845 790 9090 (24 hours), or visit samaritans.org.uk
Sexual Health Information Line: for free 24-hour advice, call 0800 567 123, or visit nhs.uk/sexualhealth
Victim Support: If you are the victim of a crime and want support and advice (whether or not the crime has been reported), call 0845 303 0900, or visit victimsupport.com
Here is a list of London hospitals with 24-hour A&E departments. These are for meant for serious illnesses that cannot wait. If you have something minor, you should go to an NHS walk-in centre instead (see below).
Charing Cross Hospital: Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith. Tube: Barons Court or Hammersmith. Tel: 0208 846 1234
Chelsea & Westminster Hospital: 369 Fulham Road, Chelsea. Tube: Broadway, then 14 or 414 bus. Bus: 11, 22, 211 or 345. Tel: 0208 746 8000
Guy’s Hospital: St. Thomas Street, Southwark. Tube/Train: London Bridge. Tel: 0207 188 7188
Royal Free Hospital: Pond Street, Hampstead. Tube: Belsize Park. Train: Hampstead Heath. Tel: 0207 794 0500
Royal London Hospital: Whitechapel Road, Whitechapel. Tube: Whitechapel. Tel: 0207 377 7000
St. Mary’s Hospital: Praed Street, Paddington. Tube/Train: Paddington. Tel: 0207 886 6666
St. Thomas’s Hospital: Lambeth Palace Road, Westminster. Tube: Waterloo or Westminster. Train: Waterloo. Tel: 0207 188 7188
University College Hospital: 235 Euston Road, Euston. Tube: Euston Square or Warren Street. Tel: 0845 155 5000
If you need emergency dental treatment, try…
Eastman’s Dental Hospital: 256 Gray’s Inn. Tel: 0207 915 1000
Guy’s Hospital: St. Thomas Street, Southwark. Tube/Train: London Bridge. Tel: 0207 188 7188. Emergency dental treatment only available between 8.30 AM and 3.30 PM, Monday to Friday, and you must arrive before 10 AM to be seen the same day
And if you need emergency eye treatment, try…
Moorfield’s Eye Hospital: 162 City Road. Tube/Train: Old Street. Tel: 0207 253 3411
NHS walk-in health centres provide treatment for minor injuries and illnesses. You do not need a doctor’s appointment, and you will be treated by a nurse.
Charing Cross Hospital: Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith. Tube: Barons Court or Hammersmith. Tel: 0208 846 1234. Open daily between 8 AM and 10 PM
Edgware Community Hospital: Burnt Oak Broadway, Edgware. Tube: Burnt Oak. Tel: 0208 732 6459. Open daily between 7 AM and 10 PM
Soho Centre: 1 Frith Street, Soho. Tube: Tottenham Court Road. Tel: 0207 534 6500. Open 8 AM to 8 PM Monday to Friday, and 10 AM to 8 PM Saturday and Sunday
Royal London Hospital: Whitechapel Road, Whitechapel. Tube: Whitechapel. Tel: 0207 377 7000. Open 7 AM to 10 PM Monday to Friday, and 9 AM to 10 PM Saturday and Sunday
Bliss Chemist: 5–6 Marble Arch. Tube: Marble Arch. Tel: 0207 723 6116. Open daily between 9 AM and midnight
Boots: 44–46 Regent Street. Tube: Piccadilly Circus. Tel: 0207 734 6126. Open between 8 AM and midnight (Mon to Fri), 9 AM to midnight (Sat), and noon to 6 PM (Sun)
Zafash Pharmacy: 233–235 Old Brompton Road. Tube: Earl’s Court. Tel: 0207 373 2798. Open 24 hours daily
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