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Emergency health care as a tourist in London? Just in case.

Emergency health care as a tourist in London? Just in case.

Old Jan 10th, 2024, 09:10 AM
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Emergency health care as a tourist in London? Just in case.

I understand that the NHS is not in super wonderful shape these days. I was in London as September, had a health incident. I considered what I knew of my options, then decided to tough it out till I got back to the US. That worked fine.

I understand there is private health care available, but how to access that? The little Chinese massage and herb store on Southampton Row had a sign out front that seemed to offer private physician, but that didn't seem quite the thing.

Obviously, if a real emergency, like with ambulance, we would do whatever it took.


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Old Jan 10th, 2024, 09:49 AM
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start with phoning 111 you will be talking to a human with nurse access and a fair bit of AI/logical support who will offer you advice and where to go, ambulance 999

private, no idea
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Old Jan 10th, 2024, 10:01 AM
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Thanks, bilbo.
My cousin in Scotland reports excellent emergency care from the NHS recently, but September's newspapers were full of stories about year- long wait for a CT scan, docs on strike, that sort of thing. It made me not want to burden the NHS anymore. Or be at the end of a very long queue for care.
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Old Jan 10th, 2024, 10:09 AM
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Besides bilbo's info, If you are staying in a hotel - ask the concierge or front desk if they have a doctor 'on call'. They may or may not. If it is important but not 'ambulance important' every hospital has an walk in A&E department (equivalent to the Emergency Room in the US. Be prepared to wait just like in the States.

If you contemplate needing service, you can register as a visitor at the local surgery (Doctor's office to Yanks). Again ask the front desk for a referral. They may or may not be able to put yu on their books.

Here are two TR's where I actually did need medical care -- one in London and one up in Yorkshire.

Weird trip - more time in A&E than sightseeing - Main relevant post is #21

First trip we lost a car, this trip we lose a lady >) -- the main post related to A&E is #143

Also if it is a minor thing -- UK pharmacists do more than in the US - and some meds are OTC which are prescription only back home.
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Old Jan 10th, 2024, 10:11 AM
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Thanks, j. Yes I love UK pharmacists.
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Old Jan 10th, 2024, 10:33 AM
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There are private hospitals around that have Urgent Care facilities (similar to A&E) that will accept walk ins. One just up the where I am at the moment is https://hje.org.uk . Easy to find in London and other big cities.

Dial 111 who may put you in touch with a GP surgery but not many are accepting new patients these days. Even when the junior doctors are not on strike, you can expect long delays in being seen and your case will be prioritised depending upon severity. 6 or 7 hours are not unusual , double that in or around strike days. Even ambulances queue up for hours with patients inside.

Any tourists coming here should make sure to take out adequate insurance so they may seek private care and not add to the burden of a very overstretched NHS (or self insure and be prepared to pay themselves.
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Old Jan 10th, 2024, 01:37 PM
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When my son got sick in Paris, the front desk of our hotel had a doctor there within 15-20 minutes and then after he was diagnosed with appendicitis, there was an ambulance pretty quick and off he and my husband went to the American Hospital in Paris. Got great care, stayed almost a week and my health insurance at the time told me they liked when people got sick overseas because the bills were a lot less. This was in 2001 so much may have changed. Also France not England but private doctors are probably cheaper in Europe and your insurance should cover it.
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Old Jan 10th, 2024, 05:04 PM
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Good information, crellston. Yes, among other reasons I didn't want to add my body to NHS' burden in September.

Mcdmom, I've heard about France's legendary care. Different kettle of fish, I'm afraid.
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Old Jan 10th, 2024, 10:40 PM
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My wife informed me while we were in Cap Antibes many years ago that she had been having shortness of breath and swollen ankles for about 10 days. Since we were leaving for London, I contacted a physician friend of mine there who got her a private Cardiology consult the next day on Harley street which was than followed by some blood draws and a referral to a GI specialist and a admission to the London clinic for treatment. There is a large private hospital and private practice in London that caters to many overseas visitors and the English who prefer private medicine. If you are ill I am sure that your hotel can make the appropriate referral. Do make sure that your home insurance will cover you abroad or buy travel medical insurance for your trip.
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Old Jan 10th, 2024, 11:45 PM
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Mrs Bilbo has used private hospitals in London for a bunch of medical things including those used by Saudis etc. When checking about what happens if things go wrong all the doctors told her that in that case they take you to the NHS.
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Old Jan 10th, 2024, 11:52 PM
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I had execellent care when I fell in London and had to be taken by ambulance to the Emergency Room and I ended up being hospitalized. When I was released the Dr. called me at the hotel just to see how I was doing. My brother had excellent care in Scotland this spring when he had to be hospitalized. We both ended up needing surgery and were able to have it at home, but the British Doctors and the Scottish Doctors worked well with our Doctors at home.
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Old Jan 13th, 2024, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Cali
I had execellent care when I fell in London and had to be taken by ambulance to the Emergency Room and I ended up being hospitalized. When I was released the Dr. called me at the hotel just to see how I was doing. My brother had excellent care in Scotland this spring when he had to be hospitalized. We both ended up needing surgery and were able to have it at home, but the British Doctors and the Scottish Doctors worked well with our Doctors at home.
That's very good to hear, Cali. Were they NHS docs and facilities? And your own insurance covered it?
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Old Jan 13th, 2024, 10:04 PM
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stokebailey, yes it was a large NHS Hospital and Doctors and I was not charged anything. We had bougth insurance and also had our own medical insurance but when my husband went to pay they said there was no charge. They said if I had had surgery it would have been less than $1,000. I did have the surgery when I got home and the charge was over $40,000. We thought we might have to pay and then work with our insurance to get reimbursed and were shocked that there was no charge. I had X-rays and scans as well as treatment in the ER and eveyrone who worked with me was wonderful. I also was treated by paramedics and transported to the hospital and they were great too. I do know that the Paramedics decided to take me to this hospital rather than one that was slightly closer because they felt this one was the best. I have no complaints.
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Old Jan 13th, 2024, 10:29 PM
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NHS Emergency care is generally provided free to foreign nationals. Anything other than emergency care will (should) be charged for. Sadly there are numerous examples of 'medical tourism" where the system is abused either because of inadequate medical services in visitors home countries or the expense
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Old Jan 14th, 2024, 02:03 AM
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The difference in cost, between the UK and USA, is quite shocking. I'm incredibly glad we have a great public health system in Australia. Lots of private doctors and hospitals too, if anyone was wondering.
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Old Jan 14th, 2024, 09:12 AM
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If anyone feels they ought to have been charged for NHS treatment, but weren't, there's nothing to stop them donating to one of the different NHS charitable funds
https://nhscharitiestogether.co.uk/about-us/who-we-are/

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Old Jan 14th, 2024, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by PatrickLondon
If anyone feels they ought to have been charged for NHS treatment, but weren't, there's nothing to stop them donating to one of the different NHS charitable funds
https://nhscharitiestogether.co.uk/about-us/who-we-are/

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That's what I did when I sprained my ankle in Yorkshire and A&E did xrays, gave me pain meds and provided crutches. They wouldn't (actually couldn't if I recall correctly) take any payment.
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Old Jan 14th, 2024, 11:13 PM
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janisj, we did the same and they could not take payment. My brother-in-law is British and he recommended another London based Health Group and we donated to them. PatrickLondon, it might be the group you recommended but enough years have gone by and I don't remember at this time.
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Old Jan 15th, 2024, 01:01 AM
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Australia has reciprocal health care with 11 countries and UK is one of them. we just have to show our medicare card there. .
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Old Jan 15th, 2024, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by KayF
The difference in cost, between the UK and USA, is quite shocking. I'm incredibly glad we have a great public health system in Australia. Lots of private doctors and hospitals too, if anyone was wondering.
Son is a consultant in a major Sydney hospital and we were chatting about this only the other night as our nieces are on their way there for part of their gap year. Apparently not everything is covered for visitors under the reciprocal arrangements and there are a number of provisions (one being , can it wait till you get home) so comprehensive travel insurance is still essential as certain cost can be very expensive in Australia. Of course nowhere near as expensive as the US which I guess is why insurance premiums shoot up if you include North America.
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