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Before You Go
At the time of writing, if you're an EU citizen, a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – available from health centres or, in the UK, post offices – covers you for urgent medical treatment, including pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care. However, it will not cover costs such as being flown back home in an emergency, so private travel insurance will also be needed. Britain's vote to leave the EU may well see systems change – check for the latest before travel.
Citizens from non-EU countries should find out if there is a reciprocal arrangement for free medical care between their country and the UK. If you do need health insurance, make sure you get a policy that covers you for the worst possible scenarios, including emergency flights home.
In Devon & Cornwall
Availability & Cost of Health Care
- Quality medical treatment is widely available at National Health Service (NHS) hospitals throughout the country, and (much more expensively) through private medical practices.
- Chemists (pharmacies) can advise on minor ailments such as sore throats and earaches. In large cities, there's always at least one 24-hour chemist.
- For medical advice that is not an emergency you can call the NHS 111 service (phone 111).
Britain’s only venomous snake is not uncommon in the region’s hills, moors and coast paths. Adders will only attack if harassed or threatened and, although their venom poses little danger to a healthy adult human, the bite is very painful and does require medical attention. If you are bitten, don’t panic. Immobilise the limb with a splint (eg a stick) and apply a bandage over the site firmly. Do not apply a tourniquet, or cut or suck the bite. Get the victim to medical help as soon as possible.
The coastline and outdoor lifestyle in Devon and Cornwall are often blamed for some of the highest malignant skin cancer rates in England and Wales. Experts remind UK nationals they still need sunscreen even if they’re holidaying at home. Stay out of the sun between 11am and 3pm, cover up, use water-resistant broad-spectrum sunscreen and UV sunglasses and take extra care of children.
Ticks are increasingly common in the region’s countryside, some carry Lyme disease – a relatively uncommon but potentially serious illness. To prevent bites, use insect repellent and wear long trousers tucked into socks and long-sleeved shirts. At the end of the day, check that you’re tick-free. If you are bitten, remove the tick as soon as possible by grasping it close to the skin with tweezers and twisting anti-clockwise. Lyme disease may appear as an expanding, reddish round rash in the area of the bite, for up to 30 days later. Symptoms include influenza, mild headaches and aching muscles and joints. The condition is treatable with antibiotics but early diagnosis is best; if you think any of these symptoms may come from a tick bite, see a doctor.