Healthcare in Wales
People living in Wales can access a full and diverse range of healthcare, with the National Health Service (NHS) and both private and complementary medicine practices available.
The National Health Service was launched over 70 years ago, by Welshman and the then Secretary of State for Health Aneurin Bevan, to provide free healthcare as a basic right to anyone residing in the UK.
All nationals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) coming to the UK for longer than six months are required to pay a ‘health surcharge’ as part of their visa application.
Those who have paid the surcharge or are not required to do so because they are exempt will be able to access the National Health Service (NHS) in the same way as a permanent UK resident. Further information, including about exemptions, is available on the UK government website.
NHS Wales is the publically funded National Health Service of Wales providing healthcare to some 3 million people who live in the country.
To qualify for NHS healthcare you need to register with a doctor working in a community surgery, rather than in a hospital. In the UK these are known as general practitioners or GPs for short. A General Practitioner (GP) is a doctor who deals with general medical problems. You should register with a doctor at your local medical centre as soon as you can.
For those who qualify for NHS healthcare, here in Wales, our prescriptions are free of charge. Your doctor will write a prescription note for the medicine you require, which you take to a local pharmacy.
If your interest in the Health Service is professional, check out what it is like to train and/or work in Wales.
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