I am an EU citizen who is living in the UK on a visa and plans to stay there for several years. On applying for the visa I payed the NHS surchage for the duration of the stay.
Question: Am I now entitled to free NHS services (e.g. GP visits, hospital treatment, cancer treatment, ... ) in the same way as an ordinarily resident person?
I ask, because it seems to me that the online information provided by the NHS tries really hard to avoid stating this in clear terms.
Apparently, being "ordinarily resident" is the measure of things: the website states clearly and repeatedly that only ordinarily resident people are entitles to certain services being free of charge (so-called secondary care services). I, who have just entered the UK and have no "indefinite leave to remain", am not ordinarily resident in this sense.
I expected that paying the NHS surcharge makes me somehow "equal" to such a resident for the duration of my visa. But the few times this situation is discussed on the website, it is not without a potential catch.
Here it sounds more like it is an exception for me not to be charged for something:
People who are covered by reciprocal healthcare agreements, who hold an EHIC or who have paid the immigration health surcharge may also be exempt from payment for certain services. [...]
People who have paid the surcharge (or who are exempt from having to pay it or have had the requirement waived) can use the NHS in a similar same way to an ordinarily resident person while their visa remains valid. They will still need to pay for certain NHS services, including prescriptions, dental treatment and assisted conception services.
If you've paid the surcharge or are exempt from paying it, and your visa allows you to be here for more than 6 months, you'll be entitled to free NHS hospital treatment in England on a similar basis to an ordinarily resident person, with the exception of NHS-funded assisted conception services. Your entitlement will apply from the date your visa is granted until it expires. You'll have to pay some charges, such as prescription or dental charges.
I have a hard time finding anything about what these differences between me and an ordinarily resident person should be? I am aware that some services are not free for me, e.g. certain prescriptions and dental treatment. But they aren't free for residents either, are they?
So, I am now in the unpleasant situation that whenever I read something about what the NHS can do for its people, I am utterly clueless whether this applies to me as well.