By law, the NHS ceases to have responsibility for the medical care of patients when they leave the UK. In addition GPs are not required by their terms of service to provide prescriptions for the treatment of a condition that is not present and may arise while the patient is abroad.
The NHS does accept responsibility for supplying ongoing medication for temporary periods abroad of up to 3 months. However, if a person is going to be abroad for more than 3 months, then they are only entitled (at NHS expense) to a sufficient supply of regular medication in order to get to their destination, where they should then find an alternative supply of that medication.
Patients residing abroad for a period of more than 3 months should be removed from the registered patient list.
Patients who inform us they will be leaving the country for more than 3 months will be prescribed sufficient medication to enable them to make alternative arrangements at their destination (up to 3 months’ supply where safe to do so).
They will also be removed from our patient list. We will be pleased to re-register patients on their return to residence in the UK and can reassure patients that their electronic notes are kept on file for reference on your return.
Patients and relatives should not seek medication for themselves while they are abroad as this constitutes NHS fraud.
GP’s will only prescribe NHS prescriptions in this case for exacerbations of pre-existing illnesses. Eg antibiotics for patients who have frequent infections secondary to an underlying lung condition.
GPs may provide private prescriptions if it is clinically appropriate and they can be self-administered safely without medical assessment while abroad. These prescriptions are not free.
Patients should be aware that some drugs commonly prescribed in the UK may be illegal in certain countries and you should check with that country’s embassy before you travel.