Tips for staying healthy in the UK

The UK encompasses England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and there is good healthcare available throughout.

New Zealand has a Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement with the UK, which means that medical treatment at hospitals and GP visits are free. We have compiled some handy tips below on what you should do if you need healthcare in the UK, or even better, to avoid any health issues in the first place. 


If you’re up-to-date with all your routine immunizations, there are no special vaccinations you will need before visiting the UK. However, it’s always a good idea to consult your doctor about what medicines or vaccinations you might need based on specific destinations, length of stay and planned activities.



The UK isn’t famous for its exotic cuisine, but it does boast its fair share of fish and chips, bangers and mash, pub grub and good old mushy peas. All food establishments must comply with the Food Standards Agency, so you can expect most food to meet a high standard of hygiene.

Tap water is generally safe to drink, but some water taps in places like campgrounds or roadside parking spots might not be drinkable, so keep your eyes peeled for signs. If you’re unsure, ask locals or stick to bottled water.

There are no major health issues in terms of diseases in the UK. That being said, catching a basic cold or flu can still ruin your holiday, so take all the normal precautions. Washing your hands regularly and using hand sanitizer will help to prevent you getting sick. If you do get sick, however, make sure you seek medical attention, especially if symptoms persist or if you have a temperature that continues to rise.



Where to go for help

You’ll find a high standard of medical care in the UK, with hospitals and doctors widespread throughout the country. The good news is, due to our Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement, any hospital or GP visits for unexpected medical treatment in the UK is free. If you do have an existing medical issue that needs attention, visit a GP or hospital.

If you need an ambulance, dial 999 and clearly state your name and location to the operator.

How SCTI can help

Our team is here to help. Our experts can give you advice on where to seek medical attention and arrange a payment guarantee. This means if you have to pay upfront for treatment you can rest assured that we will pay for the costs when you claim. In some cases, a large deposit will be required before you receive any care. If necessary, we can also make recommendations and arrangements to move you to more suitable facilities.

When you’re discharged, always ask for a medical report and receipt to help with making an insurance claim.

Call us if you have an emergency whilst overseas

If you need to be admitted into a hospital, require a surgical procedure or treatment, or think your medical expenses are likely to exceed $2,000, you or someone acting on your behalf will need to contact Southern Cross Emergency Assistance for prior approval as soon as possible on +61 2 9191 1180.


Be prepared

If you have an accident or medical problem, emergency services are usually fast to respond, but in some cases they can delay treatment until you can provide proof of insurance. Keep your travel insurance details in a handy place, along with a list of your prescription medications and known medical conditions. In the event of an emergency, this will be one of the first questions you will be asked by medical professionals.


The UK has strict drug laws and it is worth being careful about all prescription medication as some may not be legal in the UK. If you need to take medication with you, ensure you’ve got enough to last your entire trip, as it may be difficult to get more if you need it.

It’s important to make sure all medication is still in its original packaging and matches your prescription so the authorities can check it. You should also take a prescription or doctors note with you as proof that it has been prescribed to you, or customs could confiscate it.

Before you go

If you are feeling unwell before you leave home, it’s very important that you see a doctor. They can give you a professional recommendation on whether or not you should travel.

Even if a doctor tells you that it’s ok to travel, we recommend that you still contact us. We’ll be able to tell you if your insurance can still cover you. If there are any changes to your medical conditions, or a new illness or injury arises before you depart for your trip, please email us at so we can check whether you’re still fully covered.

Health warnings

From floods to flu outbreaks, it pays to be in the know. You can keep up-to-date on any global health warnings through the World Health Organisation (WHO). A large section of their website is dedicated to the precautions you should take when travelling.

Safe Travel also provide advice on travel risks in the UK, and allow you to register your travel and contact details in the event of an emergency.


The content of this article is general and provided for information purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) doesn’t guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or currency of the articles.

This article may contain hyperlinks to other websites owned or operated by third parties, or references to third party products or services. SCTI isn’t responsible for, and makes no recommendation about, the content or accuracy of any third party website, or for the suitability or performance of any product or service. The inclusion of a link in this article doesn’t imply that SCTI endorses the website or third party product/service.