Migrant Health

Migrant Londoners are entitled to a range of health services, but sometimes it is not as easy as it should be to navigate NHS support.

On this page, you will find information about NHS services, and resources to support migrant Londoners to access healthcare.

Primary Care

Registering with your local GP (General Practitioner) Surgery is the most direct way to access the NHS services you need. Your GP is there to listen to concerns you have about your health and provide advice. Your GP will let you know if you need other NHS services and will help you to get an appointment.

According to NHS Guidance, everyone in England is entitled to register and consult with a GP without charge. Find your local GP by using the NHS choices website

Although GP receptionists may ask you to provide proof of address and photo ID when you register, these documents are not necessary and you should not be refused registration if you are unable to provide them. Your immigration status does not affect your right to register with a GP.

To help you assert your rights, NHS England have developed ‘My right to register’ cards’ which can be downloaded here. You can show this to the GP receptionist when you register. 

If you have problems registering with a GP surgery, call the NHS England Customer Contact Centre on 0300 311 22 33, or contact the Doctors of the World advice line.

Resources for GP practices and commissioners

If you are working in Primary Care and would like to know more about removing barriers to care for migrant patients, you many benefit from the support of the Doctors of the World Safe Surgeries scheme.

You can also download NHS England Posters for Patient awareness here.

A new Inclusion Health Self-Assessment Tool is available to support Primary Care Networks (PCN) assess their performance.

Secondary Care

People who are not ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK may have to pay for some NHS services they receive in hospital or from services in the community, due to the NHS charging regulations. 

However, some services are exempt and available free for everyone regardless of their immigration status:

Exempt services:

  • Accident and Emergency (A&E)
  • Family planning (excluding termination of pregnancy)
  • Treatment for communicable disease

In 2020 the NHS migrant charging regulations in England were amended to include COVID-19 in the list of diseases exempt from NHS charging. 

Survivors of torture, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, sexual violence should not be charged for treatment needed as a result of their experience of violence (including mental health treatment).

Exempt groups:

  • Non-EEA nationals who have paid the health surcharge as part of their visa application to enter or remain in the UK
  • Refugees (those granted asylum, humanitarian protection or temporary protection under the immigration rules) and their dependents;
  • Asylum seekers (those applying for asylum, humanitarian protection or temporary protection whose claims, including appeals, have not yet been determined), and their dependents;
  • Individuals receiving section 95 support and refused asylum seekers, and their dependents, receiving section 4 support or local authority support under Part 1 of the Care Act 2014;
  • Children who are looked after by a local authority;
  • Survivors of modern slavery;
  • Those receiving treatment under the Mental Health Act;
  • Prisoners and those held in immigration detention and;
  • Refused asylum seekers in Scotland and Wales. 
  • Short-term visitors from the EU who are not covered by the new UK-EU agreement on reciprocal healthcare (including former UK residents) may be charged for NHS treatment. 

For more information, see Government Guidance on implementing the overseas visitors charging regulations.

If your treatment is urgent or immediately necessary it should not be withheld, even if you are unable to pay, although you may receive a bill afterwards. Maternity care is always deemed immediately necessary. You can find more information about Urgent and Immediately necessary treatment here.

If your treatment is withheld, you can contact the Doctors of the World advice line for advice. 

You can find more information about the NHS charging regulations on the Government website, and Maternity Action have produced guides to help you understand the NHS charging programme

Will my immigration application be affected if I cannot pay for my healthcare?

The NHS may inform the Home Office if you have an outstanding healthcare charge of over £500 that you are unable to pay within 2 months. More details about this and other information relevant to data-sharing can be found on the Maternity Action website

Whilst being charged for your healthcare can be concerning it is important that you get the care that you need; support is available if you are worried about a bill. You could ask the NHS Trust if you can pay your bill in small instalments or if you live or work in London, the Mary Ward legal centre may be able to help you arrange a repayment plan with the NHS Trust. Doctors of the World may be able to help if you think you have been incorrectly billed.

The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

The Immigration Health surcharge applies to everyone coming to the UK for longer than 6 months and is payable during the visa application process. This includes EEA nationals as of the 1st January 2021. Some people are exempt. 

More information on the Immigration Health Surcharge can be found on the Government website.


For more information contact us 


Source:  https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/communities/migrants-and-refugees/migrant-health

Our Partners

Subscribe to receive regular updates about Shpresa Programme