Immigration, NHS and Doctors of World

In the UK everyone irrespective of their legal status is entitled to a free medical treatment in the following circumstances

  • In Accident and Emergency
  • Certain infectious and contagious illnesses such as TB, HIV and STD
  • Family planning
  • NHS 111 telephone advice

Everyone is also entitled to register with a GP, receive primary care including a dentist, and pharmacies, access to health visitor and school nurse irrespective of their legal status in the UK.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Refugees and asylum seekers can have access to NHS services, they do not have to pay while they hold the status of refugees or asylum seekers, however, if someone’s asylum application is refused, or does not hold legal status, or is an undocumented immigrant then they must pay for their medical treatment.

Exceptions to payment

You do not have to pay for your treatment under NHS If you are a

  • Victim of Modern-day slavery
  • Victim of trafficking
  • Require treatment for injuries and conditions resulted by torture
  • Victim of domestic violence
  • Victim of Sexual violence and
  • Victim of female genital mutilation

You are also allowed to seek medical treatment while in immigration detention, receiving asylum support despite the refusal of your asylum claim, receiving treatment under local authority care act 2014, a child under the care of a local authority and any treatment under Mental Health Act


To have access to all health services provided by the NHS free of cost, you have to prove that you are a British national or living in the UK legally and have a settled status.


If you are in the UK illegally or cannot prove your status or on a short-term visa you have to pay for your medical treatment at NHS.

Health Surcharge

Short term visa holders must pay health surcharge. They generally pay their Health surcharge at the time of their application for leave to remain in the UK or at the time of entry clearance.


If someone is pregnant he/she may not have to pay in advance, however, for any treatment received in the UK, you will have to pay to the NHS if you are in the UK without illegally.

Data Sharing with Home Office

The NHS shares its data with the Home office. If there is an unpaid bill of £500 or more and if it is outstanding for 2 months, then the Home office can ask the NHS to share your personal details including your address with them.

Further Applications

If you owe any money to the Home Office and the NHS, your application for further leave to remain, or enter are likely to be refused

Doctors of the World

If you are not registered with any GP practice for any reason, worried about your hospital bill or debt or the NHS has refused to treat you without paying upfront, you can contact Doctors of the World for help and advice their details are given below

Doctors of the World Clinic advice line: 020 7515 7534 Monday to Friday 10 am–12 midday. Maternity Action Advice line: 0808 800 0041 (Freephone) Thursdays 10 am–12 midday only

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