The healthcare system in the Channel Islands is run independently by each bailiwick, meaning that Guernsey and Jersey have separate healthcare systems. Overall, healthcare in the Channel Islands is excellent but expensive.
It's worth noting that, despite the close links that the Channel Islands have to the UK, neither Guernsey nor Jersey have reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK. As a result, British citizens will have to pay out of pocket for any medical treatment on the islands. The Channel Islands are also not part of the EU, so expats can't use the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) here either.
There are a few countries that have bilateral health agreements with one or both of the bailiwicks, but these agreements only cover short-term visits. It can take a while to obtain local health insurance after moving to the Channel Islands, so we recommend taking out a comprehensive health insurance policy beforehand.
Healthcare in Guernsey
When moving to Guernsey, the first step to accessing the island's healthcare system is to register with a local General Practitioner (GP). The GP is the first port of call for most medical needs and can provide prescriptions and referrals to specialists if need be. New arrivals to Guernsey will need to cover the full cost of GP consultations.
Emergency care in Guernsey incurs a flat fee based on the time patients arrive at the hospital and the nature of the emergency. After-hours visits to the hospital are more expensive, and consultation charges increase with the severity of the condition, which is classified as either minor, intermediate, major or critical.
Those who are employed in Guernsey and make social security contributions will have access to several benefits, including subsidised consultations with a doctor or nurse and free specialist treatment when referred by a GP. Social security also provides access to certain prescribed medications for a small fee.
Emergency medical services
St John Emergency Ambulance Service operates Guernsey's only ambulance service, providing accident and emergency cover and paramedic response 24 hours a day. The government only partially subsides St John, and ambulance services are expensive.
Guernsey residents can support St John by purchasing a yearly subscription. This subscription entitles them to use the service free of charge and is generally a good deal, given that one ambulance trip costs approximately 10 times the yearly subscription fee. Ambulance services also accept health insurance as payment. Patients without health insurance or a subscription must pay the full ambulance fee.
Healthcare in Jersey
While Jersey has reciprocal health agreements with select countries, most expats will have to cover their medical expenses or take out private health insurance. Treatment in the emergency department is, however, free for everyone.
Expats who have been Jersey residents for six months and made the required social services contributions become eligible for a Social Security Health Card. This card provides access to discounted GP consultations. If the GP prescribes any medication, it's provided for free.
Thanks to a reciprocal agreement between Jersey and France, French citizens are eligible for the Social Security Health Card immediately and do not have to observe the six-month waiting period. Jersey also has reciprocal healthcare agreements with numerous countries, including the UK, Australia and New Zealand. However, only short-term visitors can take advantage of these, meaning they aren't of much use to expats moving to Jersey long-term.
Emergency medical services
In Jersey, emergency care is provided free to anyone who needs it. Non-residents will need to pay for all non-emergency services and care. This includes any treatments outside the public emergency departments, as well as post-emergency evacuation and repatriation costs.
Pharmacies and medication in Channel Islands
Both chain and independent pharmacies can easily be found in Jersey and Guernsey. Pharmacists can offer basic medical advice for minor ailments.
Usual pharmacy hours are from 8am or 9am to 5pm or 6pm Monday to Saturday. In Jersey, most pharmacies are closed on Sundays, but some open for a half day. Guernsey's pharmacies operate on a rota system for Sundays and bank holidays.