Based on the NHS site, you are entitled to free healthcare if you are an ordinary resident in the UK. But it can happen that you are still denied free healthcare (if they believe you are not an ordinary resident), in which case you have to pay upfront before they start your treatement, and you have to try to claim your money back.

Unfortunately the steps to do this are not really documented on the NHS websites. Searching on google for topics related to NHS refunds only result in issues regarding dental and optical care, as they are not (usually) free for patients.

Does anyone know what steps are needed to be taken to sort this thing out?

  • Can you clarify what is NHS and provide the websites?
    – Karlson
    Jul 11, 2014 at 13:46
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    @Karlson: NHS is UK's national healthcare service (the service you usually go to if you have health issues)
    – SztupY
    Jul 11, 2014 at 14:46
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    @Karlson: also see expatriates.stackexchange.com/questions/768/…
    – SztupY
    Jul 11, 2014 at 14:47
  • Are you registered with a GP where you live in the UK?
    – Gagravarr
    Jul 11, 2014 at 16:03
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    @Gagravarr: this was a walk-in centre for a work-related injury, that should have been free in any case (which was also confirmed in an email I've sent to NHS England to sort this issue out. The resolution is still pending though). I actually also did have a similar case earlier, before I have registered at a GP and they didn't complain that I didn't have a GP.
    – SztupY
    Jul 11, 2014 at 16:49

2 Answers 2


From the NHS website:

If you are taken to A&E (accident and emergency department), a minor injuries unit or walk-in centre for emergency treatment then this is free of charge. ... If you need hospital treatment during your stay in the UK, ensure you can provide evidence that you are entitled to free treatment. For ordinary residents, this means showing that you are lawfully and properly settled in the UK (for example, showing a passport/visa plus rental agreements, utility bill, etc). For those that are exempt from charges, this will likely include your immigration status plus evidence of study/work, or which country you are visiting from, as appropriate. If you cannot provide evidence showing you are entitled to free treatment then the hospital will charge you.

I think that since only non-urgent treatment is charged, the NHS would prefer you to wait until you can prove you are entitled to free care. I don't the NHS provides a form to claim back charges for people who elect to pay up front as opposed to proving their eligibility. I would think this is something you would need to take up with a solicitor.

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    I don't think a solicitor would be a good idea. The amount we are talking is small, so it would go to the small claims court, where they advise you to first talk to the other person or use a mediator, before trying to find a solicitor. Also the claim is so small, that it would probably cost much more (time + money) to bring this to the court.
    – SztupY
    Jul 12, 2014 at 14:01

Based on the conversation with the local NHS Trust, each centre can have set it's own cost for non-insured persons, and also decide what they accept and not as valid proof. They also told me that I should first sort the issue out with the local centre, before raising the problem to the Trust.

Based on all this, the local centre required the following:

  • The receipt
  • 3 months recent payslips (as patient is working in the UK)
  • or an EHIC card issued from outside the UK that covers the period the patient visited the centre
  • The credit/debit card that she used to make payment.

When we went back there they were still insiting on the patient to show a valid, non-UK EHIC card, as the receptionists thought that for EU patients that's the only valid form of proof. I had to insist, that the patient is actually working and living in the UK full-time, so after a few rounds they accepted the payslips as proof, and processed the refund.

They also urged to register at a GP as soon as possible, to make this process less painful in the future.

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