The National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded healthcare system of the United Kingdom. It provides most healthcare including general practitioners, dentistry and hospital services (including HIV services).
The NHS gives people access to general and specialist healthcare when they need it. No one has to pay for treatment when they need it, however, if you are not a UK resident you may have to pay for your treatment at a later point.
The NHS is organised separately in each of the four UK nations.
In England, the NHS is organised into primary and secondary care and managed by local authorites, Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS England.
Primary care is the first point of contact that you have with the NHS and includes:
If your GP cannot give you the care and help you need they will refer you on to a secondary care service.
Secondary care means more specialist care that you would mostly find in hospitals. This includes specialist HIV care. However, for HIV care you do not need a referral so you can go straight to an HIV or sexual health clinic without speaking to your GP first.
People with HIV access both primary and secondary care as the GP can often still be the best person to help.
NHS services are free at the point of care so anyone can get the care and treatment they need.
All HIV treatment is free regardless of your immigration status.
If you are not a British resident you may have to pay some of the costs for non-HIV care but if your condition is life threatening or infectious you will always be treated.
In England, whilst your HIV medication is free of charge, there can be a charge for other prescriptions and for dental and eye care.
The NHS Constitution sets out your rights as a patient.
Health in Wales
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This article was last reviewed on
by R. Bignami
Date due for the next review: 16/7/2017
Content Author: Roger Pebody (NAM)
Current Owner: Greta Hughson (NAM)
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