Reader question: Is it possible to stay registered at my GP in the UK if I live in France and have a carte Vitale?
As a resident in France, we assume you have deregistered from the UK healthcare system. If you leave the UK you should inform your GP and thus come off the registered list at their practice (this is not necessary for temporary stays – usually for no more than six months – where your main residence remains the UK).
Generally, leaving the UK means you are no longer able to freely access UK healthcare, and cannot use its healthcare system as if you were a UK resident.
You should register for French healthcare and should not continue using a British Ehic / Ghic beyond the first few months.
Indeed, Britons living in France may be charged for their treatment on the NHS when visiting the UK (this does not though apply, notably, to British state pensioners with UK S1 forms and who were living in France before the end of the Brexit transition period).
You can, however, access NHS ‘primary care services’ free of charge as a non-resident, which includes consulting a GP as well as emergency care.
This means you can temporarily register to a GP when returning to England, and this is possible for any length of stay from one day to three months (if staying longer it is possible to register on a permanent basis).
This option is particularly useful for residents who occasionally return to the UK from abroad for extended holidays and/or to see family.
GPs will usually not deny a request to register temporarily, but of course getting an appointment once registered may be more difficult.
Using a French Ceam while travelling
Having a carte Vitale does not influence your healthcare rights in the UK as it is only applicable for the French social security system.
However, having a valid Ceam (Carte européenne d'assurance maladie, known as an Ehic or Ghic in the UK) will cover you for essential healthcare costs in the UK when visiting, including hospital care.
The Ceam will also cover the cost of routine maternity care and costs for pre-existing healthcare conditions whilst in the UK, but it will not cover private medical care or repatriation to France.
You can apply for a Ceam through your online Ameli account.
Note, however, that French Ceams are not available to state pensioners of the UK or of other EU countries, who have their healthcare paid for by that other country. In such a case the other country should supply a travel health card. Such cards cannot be used in their issuing country but can be used on visits from France to other parts of the EU.