I would like to know more about giving birth in UK. I am not a British Citizen and do not live in the UK however I am married to a British citizen.I am planning to come to UK prior to my delivery but I would like to know if I will be entitled to receive NHS treatment or will I have to pay for private care?
(Mrs Shahira Hashem, 6 November 2008)
Eligibility for Free NHS Treatment
Entitlement to free NHS treatment in the UK is based on the country of residence and not citizenship. The general rule is that all UK residents are entitled to free treatment. It is up to the hospital administering the treatment to ensure that the patient is eligible for free healthcare.
The test to be applied for eligibility is whether the individual seeking treatment is ordinarily resident in the UK – in other words that they are in the UK legally and are settled there. If the test is satisfied there is no minimum qualifying period of residence before an individual becomes eligible for free treatment.
Categories of Treatment Which are Free to Everyone
Some types of treatment are available to everyone for free, even if they would not ordinarily be eligible for free NHS healthcare. These include:
- Treatment given in a hospital accident and emergency department or similar treatment administered by an NHS walk-in centre;
- Family planning services;
- Compulsory treatment for a psychiatric disorder.
- Treatment for some contagious diseases – but different rules apply to AIDS/HIV;
Although family planning services are included in this list maternity services are not.
Eligibility for NHS Treatment for Overseas Residents
Some overseas residents may still be entitled to free NHS treatment.
Citizens of the EU, the European Economic Area or Switzerland – or of countries who have a reciprocal agreement with the UK regarding healthcare – may be entitled to free NHS treatment even if they are not resident in the UK. However, eligibility under this category will not generally apply if the overseas resident came to the UK knowing that they needed medical care. The exception is if they were specifically referred to the UK for treatment under a reciprocal agreement.
You say that you do not live in the UK but are coming to the country prior to the birth. If it is your intention to remain in the UK as a resident after the birth and have permission to do so, either in your own right or as a result of your husband’s citizenship, you are likely to be entitled to free NHS treatment.
If your intention is to come to the UK solely to give birth and then return to your country of residence you are unlikely to be entitled to free NHS treatment. You may still be treated in an NHS hospital – but as a private patient. If you presented at an NHS hospital in labour, you would almost certainly receive treatment without having to pay for it in advance. However, if you were deemed ineligible for free treatment the hospital would be obliged to pursue you for payment afterwards.