Care and Treatment of Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Other Migrants

Asylum seekers, refugees and migrants face many of the same health problems as the UK population.

They may:

  • have poor awareness of the NHS and fear barriers to accessing treatment
  • come from countries of origin with poor healthcare
  • suffer health impacts (mental and physical) after leaving their country and being detained in the UK
  • have experienced war, conflict or torture
  • be separated from family, have poor housing and be socially isolated.

Some refugees, asylum seekers and migrants incorrectly believe they are not entitled to free treatment.

Services that are free for everyone include:

  • treatment for COVID-19
  • free testing and free treatment for paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (that results from COVID-19). 
  • vaccination against COVID-19.

Primary care services that are free include:

  • GP services
  • primary dental and ophthalmic treatment
  • accident and emergency (A&E) services
  • family planning services (not including termination of pregnancy)
  • diagnosis and treatment of specified infectious diseases
  • diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections
  • palliative care from a registered palliative care charity or a community interest company
  • NHS 111 telephone advice line treatment for a physical or mental condition caused by:
    • torture
    • female genital mutilation
    • domestic violence
    • sexual violence

There are some NHS services which patients not "ordinarily resident" of the UK may be charged for. Some of these service charges do not apply to overseas visitors if they are:

  • refugees and their dependents
  • asylum seekers and their dependents
  • individuals receiving support from the Home Office. This is under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (the 1999 Act)
  • those whose application for asylum was rejected, but they are supported:
    • by the Home Office under section 4(2) of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
    • under Part 1 (care and support) of the Care Act 2014
  • children looked after by a local authority
  • victims, and suspected victims, of modern slavery or human trafficking, (determined by the UK Human Trafficking Centre or the Home Office) and their dependents provided they are lawfully present in the UK
  • those receiving compulsory treatment under a court order, or who are liable to be detained in an NHS hospital or deprived of their liberty
  • prisoners and immigration detainees.

Applying for Asylum in the UK

You must apply for asylum if you want to stay in the UK as a refugee.

To be eligible you must have left your country and be unable to go back because you fear persecution.

You should apply when you arrive in the UK or as soon as you think it would be unsafe for you to return to your own country.

For more information, please visit:

Refugee Action

Refugee Action help refugees who’ve survived some of the world’s worst regimes. They get them the basic support they need to live again with dignity. Then they help them build safe, happy and productive lives in the UK.

Refugee Actions' vision is that refugees and asylum seekers will be welcome in the UK. They will get justice, live free of poverty and be able to successfully rebuild their lives.

Telephone: 0808 8010 503