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Immediately necessary treatment

Immediately necessary treatment is that which a patient needs:

  • to save life, or
  • to prevent a condition from becoming immediately life-threatening, or
  • promptly to prevent permanent serious damage from occurring.


This will always be provided irrespective of whether or not the patient has been informed of, or agreed to pay, charges.  We will not delay or withhold treatment to establish a patient's chargeable status or to seek payment.

All maternity services, including routine antenatal treatment, are treated as being immediately necessary.  Clinicians and other staff will be especially careful to inform pregnant patients that further maternity care will not be withheld, regardless of their ability to pay.


Urgent treatment

Urgent treatment is that which clinicians do not consider immediately necessary, but which nevertheless cannot wait until the person can be reasonably expected to return home.

We do make every effort to secure payment in the time before treatment is scheduled but if that proves unsuccessful the treatment will not be delayed or withheld for the purposes of securing payment.

While the urgency of treatment is a matter of clinical judgement, this does not mean that the treatment should be unlimited; there may be some room for discretion about the extent of treatment and the time at which it is given.


Non-urgent treatment

Non-urgent treatment is routine elective treatment that could wait until the patient can return home.

We will not provide non-urgent treatment unless the patient pays the full estimated cost of the treatment in advance.  However, in order to decide if a patient's need for NHS hospital treatment is urgent or can safely await their return home, clinicians will need to know when a patient can reasonably be expected to return home.  The decision can be made on the basis of this information.

However, the decision will be reassessed if the patient informs the staff treating them that their return date has been postponed for valid reasons or if their medical condition unexpectedly changes.



Overseas visitors are not entitled to receive an NHS subsidised prescription therefore they must pay the same charge for a private prescription.