9 May 2018

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As diplomat, you are moving to London in your new position. Among your preparation to live in this city, we want to help you to understand the Healthcare system in London, the difference between public and private healthcare, how to access them and the best hospitals in Central London.



Healthcare in England is mainly provided by England’s public health service, the National Health Service (NHS), that provides healthcare to all permanent residents of the United Kingdom.

Coverage is universal. All those “ordinarily resident” in England are automatically entitled to NHS care, largely free at the point of use, as are nonresidents with a European Health Insurance Card. For other people, such as non-European visitors or undocumented immigrants, only treatment in an emergency department and for certain infectious diseases is free.

The English are very proud of their healthcare system. However, the NHS does not always correspond to a diplomate’s expectations due to a number of reasons:

  • The consultation time with a General Pratitioner (GP) is considered too short (the fixed appointment time is 10 minutes). Generally, only one medical issue is treated per consultation.
  • You need to be recommended by a GP in order to see a specialist, even for gynaecology and paediatrics.
  • Waiting lists are long. You may waiting several weeks, or even months, before seeing a specialist or being admitted to hospital.
  • The quality of care you receive may depend on the area in which you live.
  • There is a lack of privacy due to shared wards.


Accessing public healthcare in England

The first thing you need to do to access medical treatment in England is register with a family doctor known as a GP. You are entitled to choose the GP practice that best suits your needs.  However, a GP can refuse you if:

  • They have no capacity for new patients
  • You live outside their catchment area


They cannot refuse to register you for discriminatory reasons like race, religion or an existing medical condition. The NHS covers all GP visits and routine healthcare. If needed, your GP will refer you for hospital treatment. If your condition is not urgent you may be placed on a waiting list.

Although the public system dominates healthcare provision in England, private health care and a wide variety of alternative and complementary treatments are available for those willing to pay and avoid issues and waiting time of the NHS, especially in London.


Private healthcare

Private healthcare is very present in London. Diplomats who have international health insurance can to access private health cover if hospital treatment is needed.

As a private healthcare member in London, you can expect:

  • To avoid NHS waiting lists
  • A guaranteed admission date
  • To be treated by a consultant surgeon
  • First class facilities and Diret billing to the insurer
  • Treatment at a choice of private hospitals
  • Repatriation to your own country should you need it


For these reasons above, it is well worth considering international health insurance while you are in position in the british capital.

Furthermore, medical costs are high in London ? For examples :

  • GP visit : between 80 and 100 £
  • Specialist visit : up to 250£


Good to know :

In case of emergency, go to the closest hospital « A&E » (Accidents and Emergencies). It is free of charge but you could wait. Emergency phone number is 999

Find out your hospital in your area : https://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/Accident-and-emergency-services/LocationSearch/428


Top Hospitals in Central London

  • The Royal Free Hospital

Located on Pond Street, Hampstead offers a wide range of acute medical services, and specialised medical services such as robotic-assisted surgery and organ transplantation.

  • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

Located on Fulham Road in Chelsea, is often regarded as one of the leading hospitals in the country, with one of the lowest mortality rates in the UK. The hospital is closely tied with Imperial College London.

  • Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital

Located in Westminster, this hospital trust are known as being pioneers in health research, and in teaching the next generations of health professionals.

  • St Mary’s Hospital

Located on Praed Street in Paddington, and serves as one of the four major trauma centres in London, along with being one of the leading centres for maternity services.

  • Moorfields Private Eye Hospital

The Moorfields Eye Hospital is world-renowned for leading the development of eye treatment and surgery. The private arm of the hospital has a number of locations, one of the main ones being on Bath Street, Islington.


For more details on the Healthcare system in England : http://international.commonwealthfund.org/countries/england/


EMBACITY has experience to cover Diplomatic Representations in London and in the UK. If you wish more information about our Medical insurance plan dedicated to diplomatic representations, please contact us at info@embacity.org