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Receiving chemotherapy as a new and unemployed expat in UK?

Kasia.Szczepanska's picture
By Kasia.Szczepanska - Posted on
10 October 2016

Hello! I have a very important question..
My auntie, who is Polish will be soon moving to England from Poland with her Son (he is an adult) due to some family-related reasons.
The problem is that my auntie has an advanced terminal cancer and she has been taking chemo regularly here in Poland every 3 weeks. Of course she cannot stop the treatment, she has to take the chemo regularly. I assume that due to her age, language skills and condition, auntie will not find a job in England straight away so she will be unemployed for some time (who knows for how long..). So here comes my question – As an unemployed foreigner who moved to England, will my auntie be insured and will she be able to receive the treatment (chemo)?
I will appreciate any response. I am very close with my auntie and I would like to help her out. Many thanks in advance!

Meagan's picture
Last seen: 10 hours 44 min ago
Joined: 07/07/2016

Living in:
Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

Hi Kasia,

Since Poland is an EU country, your auntie should be entitled to the same treatment for the same cost via the NHS as UK residents - this is provided she has a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). I'm finding it difficult to get hold of info about the extent to which cancer is covered under the NHS - this page gives a little info. It seems like as long as your aunt's main reason for her visit to the UK isn't for medical treatment, she should be okay. If she is "ordinarily resident" in the UK she should be eligible for free treatment.

But, it's important to note that not all charges will necessarily be covered and this is true for both UK residents/citizens and expats alike. For example, in 2015, the budget for the NHS Cancer Fund was cut down, resulting in a number of life-extending drugs now being unavailable on the NHS. There is an extensive piece by the Daily Mail Online here, written last year when the cut was announced.

You can also take a look at the Expat Arrivals Healthcare in the UK page for more detail on how the EHIC works.

Good luck, and wishing your aunt all the best.

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Anya's picture
Last seen: 6 years 25 weeks ago
Joined: 30/09/2011

Hi Kasia,

An expats entitlement to free treatment on the NHS will depend on their reasons for being in the country and the length of the time the expat has/will be in the country. 

Everyone is assessed on a case by case basis. Once they've assessed her case and determined her entitlements her entitlement starts immediately, there is no waiting period.

I suggest you get in touch with the Citizen's Advice Bureau to find out about her entitlements and get everything in place before she moves to the UK.

When is she hoping to move?

Good luck


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