The NHS (the UK’s public healthcare system), is currently undergoing numerous budget cuts. In 2015, the blacklist of medication not covered was made longer. Sixteen types of medication used to treat 23 different types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and blood cancer are no longer covered by the NHS. They were rejected due to the decision that they were not cost effective. The charity The Rarer Cancers Foundation estimates that 5,500 patients will be affected by this cost-cutting measure.


Medicines not covered by the NHS are grouped under an ‘NHS Blacklist’. These medicines are those considered by the NHS to be ineffective, or a more expensive version of a cheaper/generic version available to the NHS. The complete list can be found here.

Homeopathy is equally at risk of being rejected by the NHS

The Department of Health has scheduled a consultation for 2016 in order to come to a decision as to whether the NHS will continue to cover homeopathy or not. The NHS has indicated that it believes that ‘there is no good quality evidence that homeopathy is an effective treatment for these or any other health conditions.’

Homeopathy is currently only available in two public hospitals in the UK, and only a minority of GPs will refer patients for homeopathic treatment. Homeopathy is therefore a treatment that is usually accessed through the private sector.

Other than the medicines blacklisted by the NHS, there are other types of treatment not publically available in the UK. As well as homeopathy, other complementary medicines such as osteopathy and chiropractic treatment are only available with a GP referral, and as long as the patient lives in a catchment area which offers these therapies.  Dental and optical care as well as all prescription medication are also payable, with some exceptions (for more information please see our NHS information page).

If you would like to have a more complete medical cover in the UK you could consider subscribing either to a local health insurance or to an international health insurance policy. As an independent broker, Expat Assure can advise you regarding what would best suit your needs. Feel free to contact us so that we can discuss your options.

You may also be interested in:

An expat guide to healthcare and health insurance in the UK


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Sixteen types of medication used to treat 23 different types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and blood cancer are no longer covered by the NHS.