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Access to Healthcare

Access to publicly funded healthcare

In order to be eligible to receive publicly-funded health care in Northern Ireland an individual must be classed as ordinarily resident.

An individual will be considered to be ordinarily resident when that residence is:

  • lawful,
  • voluntary; and
  • properly settled here for the time being.

Anyone who is ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland is entitled to access publicly-funded health services. However, some Individuals who are not ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland may be entitled to access health services on the same basis as a person who is ordinarily resident, e.g., Frontier/Cross border Workers. Further information

Visitors to Northern Ireland

Some visitors may be able to receive a limited amount of free treatment, therefore it is always best to ask before you receive the treatment, where possible.

  • Visitors from the EEA (European Economic Area)

    Any visitor from a European Economic Area (EEA) member state must show their European Health Insurance Card to access free healthcare. A valid EHIC/GHIC entitles the patient to free treatment for conditions that arose during the visit and cannot wait until they return home.

    If you cannot show either an EHIC/GHIC or a Provisional Replacement Card (PRC), you will be liable to pay for treatment.

    To get a provisional replacement certificate (PRC) that will cover until the Full EHIC arrives, follow the link below:

    European Health Insurance Card

    Apply outside of Ireland

    European Health Insurance Card – Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion – European Commission (

    Only for Irish applicants:

    Apply for an EHIC in Ireland –

  • Countries with reciprocal healthcare agreements

    Any visitors from countries with whom the UK has a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement will need to show proof that they are a national/resident (as appropriate) of the country, e.g. a passport, a residence permit, etc., in order to be exempt from charges according to the agreement in place.

    Pre-existing conditions that acutely exacerbate while in the UK or, in the opinion of a clinician, need prompt treatment to prevent them from acutely exacerbating, e.g., dialysis, are also included.

    Further information on Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements

    Read more in Access to Publicly Funded Healthcare

  • Access to Private Services

    The Western Trust provides a limited service for private patients and not all specialities can be accessed in a private capacity. If you are considering private services your GP will be able to advise you on the referral process.

    Read more in the Private Services section below.

  • Access to Maternity Services

    The Western Trust have two maternity departments based at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry/Londonderry and the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen. The Trust also has community midwifery teams who provide services for women in the Limavady, Derry/Londonderry, Strabane, Omagh and Fermanagh localities. If you wish to avail of Maternity services in any of our Trust locations and you are not entitled to free healthcare please contact the Access to Healthcare team in the first instance to discuss charges and ways to pay. These services will only be offered to fee paying patients if there is sufficient patient capacity. For further information please refer to the Maternity Services page on the Trust website.

    More Information on Maternity Services

  • Access to Publicly Funded Healthcare

    Health and Social Care Services in Northern Ireland are generally free at the point of delivery for people who are considered to be ordinarily resident, which means that you do not have to pay to see a doctor nor do you need your own health insurance. Depending on you circumstances, you may have to pay for some health services like dental treatment and eye care.

    In principle, whether or not you have to pay for your treatment depends on the type of treatment and on whether you are living in Northern Ireland or just visiting. If you are a visitor to Northern Ireland and the treatment is emergency and is provided in an emergency department, walk in clinic or minor injuries unit, it is provided for free of charge. Once emergency treatment has been provided, after-care as in inpatient (admitted to hospital), or as an outpatient (not admitted to hospital) may be chargeable if you are not “ordinarily” resident in Northern Ireland or are not deemed to fulfil one of the exemption criteria.

    The Access to Healthcare Team is responsible for identifying Patients that may not be entitled to free NHS treatment and may be chargeable. It is the responsibility of the team to examine the legislation and make an assessment based on the information provided as to whether charges apply. Patients will be required to provide proof of entitlement by completing a questionnaire and provide documentary evidence to prove their circumstances.

    Download and Print the Western Trust Questionnaire

    Download and Print the Guide to “ordinarily” resident patients proof lawfulness requirement 

    List of supporting documents required to evidence an entitlement or exemption to publicly funded healthcare 

    Further Information

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Provision of Health Services to Persons Not Ordinarily Resident Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2015

    View and prove your immigration status

  • Private Services

    Sometimes patients enquire about ‘going private’. This means paying for your hospital treatment and care yourself, or using a healthcare insurance policy to cover the costs. The Western Trust provides the same quality of care to everyone, whether the cost of their treatment is paid for by the NHS, by insurance companies, or by the patient.

    Private services are limited and not available to all specialities, depending on waiting lists and capacity. Your GP will be able to advise you on the referral process, if you are considering private treatment.

    The consultant will explain the costs of professional fees and any other specialists fees, for example radiologist, anaesthetist etc.

    Hospital fees are separate from professional fees and should be paid directly to the hospital. For information on hospital fees, please contact the access to healthcare team, who are responsible for private/paying patients.

    Some consultant staff carry out private treatment in other hospitals, such as the Kingsbridge Private Hospital North West in Ballykelly. If you want to know more about this, talk to your consultant.

    If you decide to go private, the access to health care staff will advise you on the process. You will be asked to complete an ‘Undertaking to Pay’ form, this is a formal agreement telling us that you or your insurance company will pay for your care. If you have private health insurance you will be also be required to complete an insurance form. If you do not have private health insurance you will be expected to pay for your hospital treatment in advance of treatment. The access to healthcare team will advise you in advance of the cost and ways to pay. Professional fees will be an additional cost to you and will be provided by the consultant.

    Download and Print Further Information

  • Contact Us

    Access to Healthcare Departments

    Altnagelvin Hospital, Glenshane Road, Londonderry, BT47 6SB

    Tel: 028 7134 5171          Ext: 213052



    South West Acute Hospital, 124 Irvinestown Road, Enniskillen, BT74 6DN

    Tel: 028 66 38 2520               Ext: 255502


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