How the NHS was born and what it means when we travel – words Alexa Wang
The United Kingdom is proud to boast the largest and (to date) longest running single payer health care system in the world. The National Health Service – whose introduction was led by Aneurin Bevan – was born in the aftermath of World War Two as part of welfare-state reforms.
The NHS history timeline looks like this. When the national health service act 1946 was passed, the task of introducing the National Health Service was given to Aneurin Bevan who at the time was the newly appointed Minister of Health. On July 5th 1948, Aneurin Bevan unveiled the National Health Service at the Park Hospital in Manchester (which nowadays is known as Trafford General Hospital). He said “We now have the moral leadership of the world”.
Today, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service employs over one and a half million people with an overall budget of over one billion pounds. The National Health Service provides health care to every citizen within the United Kingdom with the majority of health services available free of charge. People with rights to medical care in the European Economic Area (EEA) nations can also access treatment on the National Health Service by using a European Health Insurance Card. In extreme cases, such as emergency treatment and curing infectious diseases, national health services are available for free to everyone including foreign visitors.
As previously mentioned, the majority of services within the National Health Service are free of charge. This includes doctor visits, nursing services, surgical procedures or appliances, consumables and investigations such as x-rays. Prescriptions do incur a small fee although under sixteens, over sixties and patients with certain medical conditions are exempt from this fee. All people registered with the National Health Service have their own National Health Service Number (or NHS number for short). The National Health Service Number can be used in an application to sign up for or renew a European Health Insurance Card.
The availability of the European Health Insurance Card is another benefit to come from the National Health Service. The European Health Insurance Card first came in as early as 2004 as a replacement for the old E111 form. It is a small piece of plastic which gives United Kingdom citizens the right to state provided health care in any European Economic Area country and Switzerland at a reduced cost and in some cases for free. It can be accessed when on temporary stay or on holiday in one of these countries. The card covers all necessary medical treatment until the card holder returns to the United Kingdom from their stay and gives them the same rights as a citizen from the same country with regards to medical care. It can cover pre-existing medical conditions and maternity care as long as the card holder’s reason for visiting the country was not to specifically give birth or receive medical treatment.
You can get your European Health Insurance Card today by completing an online application form. Each application can accommodate a partner and up to four children. Once the application form has been approved, the applicant is immediately covered whether they are in possession of the card or not and usually arrives by post in three to ten working days.