Health Services for Military Families in the United Kingdom
Standard of Care
The standard of care in the UK is very high, however, you will find some differences from treatment in Canada as, for example, annual check-ups will be done by a nurse. Also, some procedures may be done less frequently (ex. Pap smear and routine bloodwork). The healthcare you receive in the UK may be different than what you are familiar with in Canada. If you are having health issues, be persistent, ask questions, and don’t forget about your private care options.
Although the NHS is free and available to all residents, a number of private healthcare providers are available. Although you must still register with the NHS for a GP, a private healthcare provider can get you faster treatment if needed. You also do not require a direct referral from your GP and many appointments can be booked directly with the secretary.
Military family members are not obligated to use the NHS; should you wish to exercise your private healthcare options, the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP), managed by Allianz, is your medical insurance provider. This coverage is accessible within the UK as well as throughout your travels. For information on the PSHCP, please go to the Allianz website: http://www.pshcp.ca/coverage/comprehensive-coverage.aspx
Access to Services
Upon arrival in the UK, as soon as possible, you should register your family with the NHS. This process is very simple and can be done at www.nhs.uk. Simply click on the ‘Services Near You’, choose GPs and enter your post code. A list of GPs in your area will be populated; it will also indicate if they are accepting new patients. Once registered, it is recommended to get your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for coverage when traveling to the continent of Europe. In some EU countries, you could be eligible for free health care or a reduction in fees with EHIC. For more information please visit: http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/EHIC/Pages/about-the-ehic.aspx
You can call 111 when you need medical help fast but it is not a 999 emergency. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and calls are free from landlines and mobile phones.
When do I use it?
You need medical help fast but it is not a 999 emergency
You think you need to go to A&E or need another NHS urgent care service
You don’t know who to call or you don’t have a GP to call
You need health information or reassurance about what to do next
It is always advisable to contact Allianz to confirm what they will and will not cover prior to scheduling any private medical treatment. For questions you may contact the following numbers: From Canada or the United States: 1-800-363-1835 (toll free) or Outside of Canada and the United States: (001) 519-742-1691 (call collect)
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (EST)
There is a flat rate of £8.05 for most prescriptions but many are free (i.e. birth control). If you have a pre-existing condition, you may be exempt from the prescription charge. Please visit the NHS website.
Pharmacists are called Chemists in the UK. Boots and Superdrug are among the largest chains and offer a wide range of over-the-counter medicines for common ailments. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, be sure to ask the Chemist as they may keep that medicine behind their counters. Your local surgery may also have a chemist, so prescriptions may be available directly after your appointment.
Dental care is partially covered by the NHS. You do not have to pay for NHS dental treatment if, when the treatment starts, you are:
There are three standard charges for all NHS dental treatments:
- Aged under 18
- Under 19 and receiving full-time education
- Pregnant or a mother who has had a baby in the previous 12 months
- Staying in an NHS hospital and your treatment is carried out by the hospital dentist
- An NHS Hospital Dental Service outpatient (however, you may have to pay for your dentures or bridges).
- Band 1 course of treatment – £18.50: This covers an examination, diagnosis (including X-rays), advice on how to prevent future problems, a scale and polish if needed, and application of fluoride varnish or fissure sealant.
- Band 2 course of treatment – £50.50: This covers everything listed in Band 1 above, plus any further treatment such as fillings, root canal work or removal of teeth.
- Band 3 course of treatment – £219.00: This covers everything listed in Bands 1 and 2 above, plus crowns, dentures and bridges.
You're entitled to have all clinically necessary treatment on the NHS, including:
- root canal treatment
- crowns and bridges
- any preventive treatment needed, such as a scale and polish, an appointment with the dental hygienist, fluoride varnish or fissure sealants
- white fillings
- orthodontics for under-18s
Private Dental Care: When you agree to treatment make sure you are clear about whether your dentist is charging you for NHS or private treatment. Your dentist can let you know the estimated cost for treatment plan. Then you can contact Great West Life (GWL) insurance to determine how much of the cost will be covered by your insurance.
Please note that GWL follows the Ontario fee guide for reimbursement. Sometimes you may pay more for your treatment then what is recommended on the Ontario fee guide. In this instance, you may be able to recover the costs through Military Foreign Services Instructions (MFSI).
The UK falls under the area of responsibility of CFSU(E) Det Casteau dental services. If you have any questions related to dental care for families or how to submit the GWL claim form, please contact Det Casteau at +32 (0)65-445885.
Many NHS dentists also work in private dentistry; however, some dentists will only work with the NHS or are wholly private. Many websites can assist you to find a dentist in your area, both NHS and Private:
Optometrists: Although not part of the NHS system, eye tests can be done at any local service provider. Children registered in a British school system will receive a free eye test per year as well as a voucher (coupon) to go towards a new pair or glasses or contacts. Adults pay for the service. The term optometrist in the UK is more commonly known as an optician (opthamalic optician. For more information on eye health and eye care entitlements, please go to this website.