About cancer

General NHS services

Treatment and care

Under the NHS you are entitled to free treatment. Prescription charges vary depending on where you live in the UK.  You  can find out more about these and other areas where you may be entitled to help with costs by visiting our Financial help section.

Interpreting services

If your first language is not English, you may ask for:
  • interpreters who will translate for you
  • link workers who an help you through your course of treatment
  • advocates who will represent your views and wishes.

Even if you have a family member who does speak English, you may prefer a trained interpreter to go to your appointments and translate for you. You should contact your hospital beforehand so they can arrange an interpreter for you.

You can find out more about cancer information in other languages by visiting our Information in languages other than English page.

Your hospital

Your hospital will be part of an NHS hospital trust, which is usually a group of hospitals in a town or city. Many trusts have their services spread over different sites and you may have to go to different hospital sites for treatment.

NHS Charges for people from abroad

Your entitlement to free NHS treatment depends on the length and purpose of your residence in the UK, not your nationality. There may be charges for some NHS services, for example, your dental treatment, and you may be entitled to help with these charges. Any free NHS treatment you receive, or any help with NHS costs, does not affect your immigration status. If you are entitled to it, you can obtain free treatment immediately. There is no qualifying period. 

Patient advice and liaison service (PALS)

Your hospital should have a Patients Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) which can provide information and advice about the hospital and where you can get support. You can also contact them if you experience any problems, and they should help you to sort out any concerns you have about your hospital care.

If you are not happy with your experience in hospital it is important to let the hospital know. If you have particular concerns, you can speak to someone involved in your care, such as a doctor, nurse or ward manager. They will try to sort out the problem immediately; otherwise someone from the Patients Advice and Liaison Service at the hospital should be able to help you. If you do want to make a complaint, they will be able to explain the hospital’s complaints procedure. 

In Scotland, you can contact the Patient Advice and Support Service (PASS) which is an independent service providing free, accessible and confidential advice and support to patients, their carers and families about NHS health care. You can access this service via the Citizens Advice Bureaus in Scotland. Meanwhile, in Wales, if you have a complaint about hospital care or treatment you can do so through the Community Health Council.