Only in case, an exemption is legally provided for, visitors are usually, not entitled to any free of charge treatment from HM’s National Health Service (NHS). Therefore, visitors have to pay the bill for any medical treatment, which they receive through NHS during their stay on a visitor visa in the UK.
The UK has Reciprocal Healthcare Agreements (RHCAs) with some countries, which generally provide equivalent access to the citizens of contracting countries for any immediate health care services, only when they are visiting the other country for a limited duration. Treatment under RHCAs is provided on the same terms and conditions as that to a local resident and free of charge in the United Kingdom. Mostly, RHCAs apply to short-term visitors only. RHCAs also cater for treatment that may arise during migrants stay in the UK. RHCAs do not generally allow migrants to visit the UK for the seeking medical care.
Medical Treatment Definition UK Visa
Visitors can only access paid medical treatment in the UK; however, the only exception is the medical treatment for an organ donor.
The organ donors are required to provide specific and conclusive evidence with their applications that they are either a donor match or are already identified as a potential donor to a designated recipient in the United Kingdom.
Genetic and Personal Relationship | Organ Donors
The organ donor needs to satisfy in the visa application that he/she has either a genetic relationship or a close personal relationship with the prospective recipient in the UK.
Genetic relationships mean that the donor is a blood relative to the recipient in the United Kingdom. A close personal relationship usually means that the donor is the spouse, partner or close friend of the identified recipient in the UK. Close relationships do not include relations established through social media such as Facebook.
Pecuniary Consideration is an Offence | Organ Donors
Organ donation for a financial consideration is an offence; however, reimbursement of expenses are permitted for organ donation through NHS. In case during the application assessment if there is any suspension that a payment is being made for organ donation then the case is referred to Risk and Liaison Overseas Network (RALON).
In the application, the visitor must also satisfy that the identified recipient is not only living in the UK legally but the recipient is also entitled to receive treatment at NHS or in a private hospital.
Cost Reimbursement by NHS | Organ Donors
Visitors donating organs to patients through NHS treatment can be reimbursed for expenses that they have incurred and are directly attributable to being a donor. Such expenditures include travel costs and also the opportunity cost i.e. loss of earnings. NHS usually reimburse such expenses after the treatment. The visitor needs to satisfy in the application about the funding of the stay in the UK.
The visiting organ donors should not be accompanied by their dependant children unless there is no immediate care arrangement for the children is available in their home country and satisfactory arrangements have been made in the UK for looking after the children. Therefore, the visiting organ donor is required to satisfy in the application that necessary arrangements for the stay of the dependant children have been made in the UK, especially during the period when the organ donor will be in a hospital or during the recuperation period.
Private Medical Treatment | Accompanying Visitor
There is no permitted activity (i.e. no provision under the rules) for a family member, friend or nurse to accompany a visitor coming to the United Kingdom for a private medical treatment. Therefore, any accompanied individual need to apply as a visitor and satisfy the requirements of the visitor rules.
In case the accompanied visitor is not able to meet the requirements under the immigration rules for visitors rules either in the Initial Application or an Extension Application to stay in the United Kingdom for more than six (6) months, then the case is generally referred to Referred Casework Unit (RCU) for ascertaining whether to provide a leave outside of the immigration rules is appropriate or not.
Secondary Applications from Organ Donors
If a visitor enters as an NHS donor and is assessed to be an unsuitable match or chooses not to donate, either because the donor is incompatible with the intended recipient, or prefer a better match, the organ donor may choose to pursue a paired or pooled donation.
Paired or Pooled Donation
Paired or Pooled Donation allows the donor to be matched with another donor and recipient in the same condition in the National Living Donor Sharing Schemes. The donor organs are then swapped. In case two (2) pairs are involved, then it is a paired donation, and when there are more than two (2) pairs, then it is called a pooled donation.
Where an individual applies for a visit visa on this basis, the application is referred to RCU for consideration outside the rules.
Individuals making secondary applications on this basis are required to provide the relevant medical letter.
The medical letter must provide the details of the arrangements involved and specify whether this is either a pooled donation or a paired donation.
The application is assessed against the general visitor requirements and the additional requirements for organ donors. The only exception to the requirement is to have genetic or a pre-existing relationship with an immediate recipient, although they should still have a bond with someone in the group who is receiving an organ transplant.