Guernsey is the second largest of the Channel Islands, located just off the coast of Normandy. With a growing economy and opportunities for a great work-life balance, it’s a popular destination for expats and attracts professionals, families and retirees looking for a different pace of life.
While it’s a British Crown Dependency, Guernsey is self-governed and not part of the United Kingdom. The island’s healthcare system isn’t part of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), though there are agreements in place between the two. Guernsey is also not part of the EU, so its healthcare scheme is managed independently and has its own unique rules and operating procedures.
Guernsey provides a very good standard of healthcare. With an efficient network of private doctors’ clinics, medical centres and a public hospital, the Princess Elizabeth Hospital (PEH), the healthcare system in Guernsey holds itself to very high standards.
It has well-trained medical professionals and modern facilities throughout both its private and public health networks. But, as a small island with a population of just under 64,0001, there are certain limitations to the medical treatment and expertise available in Guernsey.
The Princess Elizabeth Hospital – Guernsey’s only hospital – offers a range of healthcare services, operations and specialisms, but there are some areas that might not be available. So, it’s possible that you may need to be taken to the UK or mainland Europe to receive certain operations and less-common forms of treatment.
It’s important to note that Guernsey’s healthcare system is completely independent. It isn’t part of the NHS in the United Kingdom, nor is it connected to the EU, so European Health Insurance Cards aren’t valid.
Guernsey has its own health service, which is run by the Committee for Health & Social Care. The island’s social security system operates a specialist health insurance scheme for residents who make income-related insurance contributions. As an expat, you’ll be granted immediate cover when you start making these contributions.
The specialist health insurance scheme will cover your costs for most specialist – or secondary – care provided by Guernsey’s Medical Specialist Group (MSG) when you’re referred by a doctor. Services provided by the MSG include both elective and emergency surgery, diagnostic tests and inpatient hospital care.
While these ‘secondary’ services and referrals are covered by the specialist health insurance scheme, you’ll be responsible for meeting other healthcare costs. This includes doctor consultations, dental care and emergency services like A&E visits and ambulance transport. These services are run privately, so you’ll always need to pay for these, though you won’t pay quite as much for certain doctor and nurse consultations once you’re a resident. The island’s doctors’ practices recommend private healthcare cover to help with any unexpected medical costs2.
Accessing healthcare in Guernsey may seem complex at first, but it can be broken down quite simply. There are some healthcare services that you’ll always have to pay for but, as soon as you’ve registered with the Social Security Department, you’ll be able to access certain benefits and free services in the same way as other residents.
In Guernsey, your doctor is the first point of contact for most medical issues and healthcare referrals. You’ll need to see your doctor before you can access the Medical Specialist Group (MSG) for secondary care services.
All the doctors Practices in Guernsey are private, so they’re not operated by the Committee for Health & Social Care. This means everyone has to pay for GP appointments and consultations, though some costs may be subsidised for local residents. There are three GP practices on the island - Healthcare Group Guernsey, Queen’s Road Medical Practice, and Island Health. Between them, these practices run nine surgeries and they each have a comprehensive list of fees and charges online:
When you move to Guernsey, one of the first things you’ll need to do is register with one of these practices by calling them or filling in an online form. You shouldn’t have to wait too long for an appointment with a doctor or nurse and you’ll then be charged for your appointment when you visit, along with any prescriptions, vaccinations or tests.
Guernsey has a 24-hour professional ambulance service. It’s provided by the St. John Emergency Ambulance Service, which is a charitable organisation and is therefore not free. You’ll be charged for any ambulance treatment or transport, regardless of residency status.
An individual call-out can be very expensive, but St. John’s operates an ambulance subscription scheme. This allows you to pay an annual fee so that you won’t have to pay for any ambulance services you might need throughout the year.
You can call an ambulance on 999 or 112. The ambulance service can provide emergency treatment and bring you to the emergency department of the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.
Guernsey’s Emergency Department (ED) is located at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital. It’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to provide emergency care to the island’s residents and visitors.
Treatment in the ED is not free. The amount you pay will depend on what time you attend as well as the type of treatment you need. There’s a basic 'Attendance, Assessment and Advice Only' fee and various 'Consultation Fees,' which are tiered according to the level of care and resources that are required. An overview of the ED’s fees is available here.
Specialist care in Guernsey is provided by the Medical Specialist Group (MSG). When you register with social security and make income-based contributions, your specialist health insurance scheme will cover the cost of these specialist services, as long as you’ve been referred.
Your referral can be from a doctor, or from a doctor at the emergency department once they’ve assessed you and decided on the most appropriate course of treatment. Once referred, you’ll be able to receive specialist support from an MSG consultant at no additional direct cost to you. This level of treatment is also known as 'Secondary Care' and can involve hospital treatment or investigations, elective surgery or ongoing outpatient care.
MSG consultants also operate privately, so if you have private healthcare cover, you can choose to receive private care if you prefer, and then cover the relevant costs through your healthcare provider.
There are 15 pharmacies across Guernsey, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get your prescription medication. Many of the island’s pharmacists are also able to offer guidance about minor illnesses and health concerns.
You’ll be charged for most prescription medications, but there’s a cap, which keeps the costs under control and means you shouldn’t pay more than a certain amount per item. Your residency status can also reduce costs while some residents may be exempt from certain charges.
All dentists in Guernsey are private, so you’ll need to pay for most dental care. You’ll need to register with a dentist and make an appointment directly, which you’ll then pay for when you visit.
A directory of all the island’s dental surgeries is available via the Guernsey Dental Association and in the local telephone directory. If you need a dentist outside of normal working hours, you can call the Princess Elizabeth Hospital and find out which dental practice is on-call.
Guernsey has health agreements with a small number of countries. These agreements allow residents to access healthcare in other countries and vice versa.
It’s important to note that these agreements are generally designed for short-term visitors and holidaymakers. In Guernsey, the reciprocal health agreements will also usually only extend to urgent care rather than all ongoing treatment, so this shouldn’t be looked at as a long-term solution or an alternative to private healthcare cover.
Countries with reciprocal health agreements include Australia, Austria, Iceland, Jersey, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
With doctors, dentists and emergency services all incurring fees, as well as the fact that certain circumstances might require evacuation to the mainland, it’s worth considering private healthcare cover in Guernsey. It’s not an entry requirement but is highly recommended by the island’s doctors’ practices and its government.
Many residents choose to take out private health insurance to prevent medical costs from getting out of control. And as an expat, it can take a while to adjust to new surroundings, so a healthcare plan can also provide an extra level of reassurance for you and any family members.
There’s a lot to consider when moving off the mainland and to an island like Guernsey. But with our Islands Health Plan, you’ll have one less thing to worry about. We’ll help you settle into your new life with the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve always got somewhere to turn for help.
With the Virtual Doctor service, you can have a medical consultation with a real doctor wherever you are in the world – from the comfort of your home, hotel or office. Better still, there are doctors on call and available 24/7.3
Guernsey is a unique and unforgettable place to visit or call home. Our comprehensive healthcare cover is here to ensure you can relax and enjoy every minute of it.
Our Virtual Doctor service lets you speak to an experienced doctor over the phone or by video from anywhere in the world in a number of different languages, including English, Spanish and Mandarin. 3
We work closely with trusted local healthcare providers across our network, so we can often pay claims directly. This means less hassle for you, as you’re not left out of pocket.
Our dedicated care team is available by phone from 9am to 5pm UK time for members receiving cancer treatment on the mainland. They offer a range of services to help you through this difficult time.
If you have an accident or illness and can’t get the help you need in Guernsey, we’ll pay towards getting you evacuation and repatriation – whether that’s to another island or mainland UK.
Guernsey is home to friendly people and offers a great work-life balance. But it always takes time to settle in, so our Mind Health service is here to connect you to qualified mental health experts for support when you need it.4
If you’re ever uncertain about a treatment plan, you can get an independent second medical opinion service from an international network of experts. 5
Whether you’re starting a new career in Guernsey or relocating for a temporary work assignment, we offer comprehensive expat insurance cover, as well as optional benefits that you can tailor to your needs.
If your family is starting a new life in Guernsey, the last thing you want is to let a health worry interfere with your experience. Discover how our Islands Health Plan could cover you and your family’s general health as well as emergencies.
Guernsey’s laid-back way of life and excellent standard of healthcare makes it a very popular destination for people to escape to for their retirement. Our Island Health Plan includes cover for ambulance services, surgeries and scans and can be tailored to your needs with additional optical and medical cover.
*Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8am-5pm (GMT).
Calls may recorded and/or monitored for quality assurance, training and as a record of the conversation.
The Virtual Doctor, Mind Health and Second Medical Opinion services are provided by Teladoc Health.
Local insights have been approved by Oban International’s LIME (Local In-Market Expert) network. - https://obaninternational.com/lime-network/
3 The Virtual Doctor service is provided by Teladoc Health. Appointments are subject to availability. You do not need to pay or claim for a consultation, but you will be charged for the cost of the initial phone call when using the call back service. You won’t be charged if you request a call back using the app or online portal. Telephone appointments are available 24/7/365 and call-backs are typically within 24 hours. Telephone appointments in Greek are available between 9amand 9pm EET, seven days a week. Video appointments in English, Spanish and Mandarin are available between 8am and midnight UK time, Monday to Friday. Video appointments in German are available between 8am and 8pm CET, Monday to Friday.
4 This service provides you with access to six sessions with a psychologist, per mind health concern, per policy year. Mind Health psychologist appointments are available in English and Spanish between Monday and Friday, 09.00 - 17.30 (UK time)
5 Service provided by Teladoc Health