This is following on from my previous post. Upon further research I see that we pay for healthcare as part of our visas, about 200 a year per person. According to gov.uk it seems that all health services would then be free to use (except dental and eye). However, according to nhs.uk unless i am seeing a go or using emergency services, it may be expensive with long waits to use secondary hospital centers (I am thinking of using the lupusuk centers). Which one is true? Does anyone know? I am confused as to how this works.
Accessing the nhs as an expat.: This is following... - LUPUS UK
If you have a visa that gives you ILR status (indefinite leave to remain) or temporary stays of over 6 months and have paid your £200 then you are treated the same as anyone else and have the same access to public health services as anyone else (apart from fertility treatments). If you just have a tourist or temporary visa for under 6 months then I think you have to pay 150% of the NHS cost.
So most things free at point of service, although prescription charges apply for each item prescribed.
You might know all of this already...EDIT: You DO know all this already
People in the UK access routine healthcare via the GP service. If you need treatment by a specialist, and want to remain in the NHS system, you see a GP and they refer you to the specialist. This usually entails a wait of several months to a few years, depending on the specialty. In my area, the wait for rheumatology is around 8 months. If the GP thinks your need to see a specialist is urgent (but still not an emergency), they can make an urgent referral which may cut the wait a little (but not much!).
In England, you can request that your GP refers you to particular named specialist or service but in practice there are sometimes restrictions on just how much liberty they have to do this.
If you want to bale out of the NHS system, you can do so - many consultants have a parallel career in private practice. You then usually ask your GP to write a referral letter and you book yourself into the consultant's private clinic. You usually get seen within a week or two. Since they often practice in the NHS too, after seeing them privately, your consultant may then place you on their NHS caseload and so you have effectively jumped the queue and saved yourself the wait for assessment.
My reading of the gov.uk guidance is the same as yours - the £200 health surcharge on your visa entitles you to use NHS services - including hospital ones like specialist rheumatology. This seems to be the relevant paragraph:
"Payment of the health surcharge entitles the payer to NHS-funded healthcare on the same basis as someone who is ordinarily resident, from the date their visa is granted and for as long as it remains valid. They are entitled to free NHS services, including NHS hospital care, except for services for which a UK ordinary resident must also pay, such as dentistry and prescriptions in England."
I think the confusion arises because there seem to be a couple of versions of the relevant information on websites run by the NHS. I was confused by this too, but then noticed that one says it was last updated in 2015. The more recent one (2018) repeats the advice above. You can check it here
Hope that helps x
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