Having cancer treatment abroad

You might want to go abroad to have cancer treatment. Find out what NHS funding options you have.

Why do people go abroad for treatment

You might want to go to a European Economic Area (EEA) country or to Switzerland to get medical treatment. This could be because you’re waiting too long for an operation (or other treatment) in the UK and you could have it done sooner abroad.

It will be your responsibility to arrange the treatment. But talk through your plans with your doctor first. They can direct you to your Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The CCG can explain your funding options and which one would suit you best.


There are two options for NHS funding: the S2 route and the EU directive route on cross border healthcare (Article 56).

The S2 funding route

The S2 funding route lets you have treatment in another European Economic Area (EEA country) or Switzerland under the same conditions of care and payment as that country’s residents.

In some EEA countries, you might need to contribute to the cost as some countries only cover a percentage of the costs. But you may be able to claim some or all of the money back afterwards when you return to England.

The S2 funding route has specific criteria that needs to be met in order for you to qualify.

The EU directive route (Article 56)

The EU directive route might allow you to claim back some or all the costs of planned medical treatment in the EEA, but not Switzerland. The treatment must be available on the NHS.

There’s no guarantee that you will get funding. You will usually need to pay the treatment costs upfront.

Unlike the S2 funding route, you may be able to claim towards private or state funded treatment. But you can only claim back the amount the treatment would have cost on the NHS. 

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