cover image

Emergency medical services in the United Kingdom provide emergency care to people with acute illness or injury and are predominantly provided free at the point of use by the four National Health Services (NHS) of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Emergency care including ambulance and emergency department treatment is only free to UK residents and a charge may be made to those not entitled to free NHS care.[1]

One of London Ambulance Service's frontline vehicles
The London Air Ambulance in action
Peugeot van ambulance NHS Scotland

The NHS commissions most emergency medical services through the 14 NHS organisations with ambulance responsibility across the UK (11 in England, one each in the other three countries).

As with other emergency services, the public normally access emergency medical services through one of the valid emergency telephone numbers (either 999 or 112).[2]

In addition to ambulance services provided by NHS organisations, there are also some private and volunteer emergency medical services arrangements in place in the UK, the use of private or volunteer ambulances at public events or large private sites, and as part of community provision of services such as community first responders.

Apart from one service in Scotland, air ambulances in the United Kingdom are not part of the NHS and are funded through charitable donations, although paramedics and doctors may be seconded from a local NHS ambulance services and hospitals.