who has to pay for nhs treatment in the uk? how much is dental work? is physiotherapy free? eye tests, charges for people from abroad

Who has to pay for NHS treatment in the UK?

By Keith Pilkington

​The NHS is a service that is free at the point of access, however there are some circumstances in which you may have to pay or where the treatment you want or need is not available through the NHS. This could be because the treatment is only made available to certain groups of people, or it isn’t classed as a necessity. The main areas you’re likely to have to pay, are:

  • Eye tests - typically cost £25

  • Dental work – it is separated into Bands:
    oBand one (treatments such as examinations, x-rays and polishes) costs £21.60
    oBand two (including fillings, root canal treatment and teeth removal) costs £59.10
    oBand three (covering complex procedures such as crowns, dentures and bridges) costs £256.50

  • Physiotherapy – this is available free of charge on the NHS, but waiting lists can be long so many opt for private care, with a typical appointment costing £50

  • Tests and scans – through the NHS, you’ll only receive tests and scans that your GP or a doctor refers you for. If you want to have tests done that aren’t considered necessary, you will have to go private, and pay a fee.

Find out more about NHS patient activity.

Charges for people from abroad

Some NHS treatments are free to anyone who needs it. This includes:

  • Treatment in a hospital A&E department

  • Seeing a GP – as an NHS or temporary patient

  • Family planning services

  • Treatment for some infectious diseases

  • Compulsory psychiatric treatment

For other NHS services, whether you can access them for free will depend on the length and purpose of your residence in the UK.

You have access to free NHS treatment if you’re a citizen of:

  • A country in the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland

  • Another country, and you’ve got permission to stay in the UK for more than six months, for example a work visa

After 31 December 2020, EEA and Swiss citizens will also need to have status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Dental treatment. It’ll be up to the dentist whether they accept you onto their list of NHS patients. Even if you are accepted as an NHS patient, you have to pay charges for dental treatments. Here’s more information on treatments and the help you may be able to get to pay for them.

For more information on NHS careers, read our collection of blogs.