Coronavirus and cancer

We know it’s a worrying time for people with cancer, we have information to help. If you have symptoms of cancer contact your doctor.

Read our information about coronavirus and cancer

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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 route

The S2 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 UK.

The S2 route requires that:

  • you are entitled to have this treatment on the NHS
  • the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have agreed to fund this treatment
  • you have a letter from your NHS doctor confirming that you need the treatment and stating why you should receive it in the other country
  • you are not having experimental treatment or part of a drug trial
  • you are not going abroad to receive emergency treatment

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. The treatment must be available on the NHS.

There’s no guarantee that you will get funding. Always check this first with your Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). You will usually need to pay the treatment costs upfront.

Unlike the S2 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. Your CCG can work out the amount that you could claim and advise you further.


Both the S2 and EU directive route are available up until Brexit. You can continue treatment through these routes if you started it before we leave the EU.

Information and help