Registering with a local GP should be a priority for expats when moving to Wales, as an NHS number is allocated through a local doctor. This number will allow expats to take advantage of the public healthcare system in the UK. To make use of the local public healthcare facilities, an expat may need to show the doctor or nurse their passport and visa to demonstrate their eligibility for NHS benefits. Expats from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) must pay a health surcharge as part of their visa application if they are staying longer than six months. Payment of this fee grants expats access to all NHS services.
When it comes to seeking medical treatment in the UK, the local GP is likely to be an expat’s first point of contact. These professionals are qualified to deal with the majority of general medical queries. If a patient requires further tests or specialist medical treatment, the GP will provide a referral.
The NHS covers almost all medical services, excluding dental and eye treatments. For these, expats will have to pay out of their own pockets or rely on private health insurance. However, NHS dentists offer the basics at a much lower rate than private dentists. There are also many people who qualify for free eye tests through the NHS.
Long waits can be part of the NHS experience, but this is mostly associated with doctor’s appointments. It can be difficult to get a same-day appointment with a GP, and specialists often have waiting lists lasting more than a month. When it comes to emergency medical treatment however, public health institutions are generally quick and efficient, and expats can rely on quality care.