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Medical emergency abroad: how to come back to the UK?

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Medical emergency abroad: how to come back to the UK?

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What exactly does repatriation mean? The majority of UK citizens and residents envision someone returning back to their country of origin. In fact, this is precisely what repatriation means. However, it does not have to be after years of living abroad. In this sense, travellers who become ill or injured while overseas may use repatriation services, more particularly medical repatriation. While scheduling a medical repatriation via a commercial aircraft is quite possible and even common, what if the patient's illness is so severe that they require considerable care or medical help throughout their return journey to the UK? Keep your eyes on the screen to discover more about medical repatriation, when it cannot be done on a scheduled flight, and why a dedicated air ambulance is the best alternative.

The key points to remember about booking a medical flight after a medical emergency abroad:

  • Cardiovascular problems, severe brain injuries, bone fractures or mental illnesses…all justify your medical repatriation to the UK.
  • Depending on the severity of your condition, you can either opt for our medical escort service or a dedicated air ambulance.
  • In comparison to commercial airliners with limited medical resources, our private air ambulances are outfitted with state-of-the-art medical equipment. Qualified healthcare professionals also accompany the patients throughout their flight.

Medical emergencies that can happen abroad

Travelers may not anticipate becoming sick or injured while visiting another country, but if they do, medical repatriation may be necessary. When hospital transportation back to the UK is required, Medical Repatriation UK can provide all-inclusive medical services to you or your loved ones.

There are numerous medical emergencies abroad for which you may charter one of our air ambulances:

  • Heart attacks
  • Bone fractures
  • Severe head injuries
  • Mental illnesses 
  • Covid-19

Heart attacks

Did you know that flying within two weeks of a heart attack is not recommended, and flying after that amount of time is only possible if the patient is in a stable condition? Indeed, blood clots can be caused by long periods of sitting, dehydration, and low oxygen levels in a plane cabin. When flying, venous thrombosis, or the formation of a blood clot in the veins of the leg, pelvis, or arms, is one of the most serious health hazards for those with heart disease.

patient having heart attack

Bone fractures

For trips of less than 2 hours, the vast majority of commercial airlines require you to wait at least 24 hours after a plaster cast has been set, and a minimum of 48 hours for longer journeys. This is due to the increased likelihood of swelling after a plaster cast is first fitted, which can interfere with circulation and, in turn, create a blood clot (DVT).

Severe head injuries

Flying with a recent brain injury, even if it is as minor as a concussion, might be risky, a brain haemorrhage being one of the most serious complications. As previously stated, a change in altitude (or air pressure) might exacerbate symptoms. Flying at a high altitude with cerebral haemorrhage or even a brain tumour is therefore highly discouraged.

Mental illnesses

Never travel alone if you have a mental illness such as psychosis, dementia, schizophrenia, or Alzheimer's disease. There are just too many options to consider, complex instructions to follow, and new people to meet. Even patients with well-managed mental diseases may require professional medical help to ensure that they receive their medication on time and obtain assistance when needed.

We were contacted by a British senior citizen from France who needed medical repatriation services to the United Kingdom for his dementia-stricken wife. We transported her in a ground ambulance from her care facility in France and arranged for a special stretcher bed to guarantee that she was comfortable in our private air ambulance at all times. She was accompanied on the aircraft by a doctor and a nurse who looked after her the entire time.


It is strictly forbidden to board a scheduled flight while positive for Covid-19. Indeed, infected passengers are not accepted by any commercial flight companies. Even a severe fever might keep you grounded. Passengers who show symptoms of the disease can rely on us because we have the required equipment to keep them safe during their medical return. Even patients who have been intubated can, in fact, be transported. These patients are also transferred in a state-of-the-art isolation shell with an air filtration system and various ports, allowing their treatment without endangering others. Patients who are asymptomatic are transported alone on our private jets.

What are the issues that you can encounter while ill or injured in a foreign country?

Becoming ill or being injured while on the road is unpleasant, especially when:

  • You are alone. Taking care of a patient by yourself, away from your loved ones, may quickly become exhausting. This is why this sweet old man wished for his wife to be repatriated in the United Kingdom, her country of origin, in order to receive proper care.
  • You are unable to obtain adequate medical care. You may never be certain about the level of medical treatment provided in your destination country. If your condition is severe, you may need to travel across oceans for treatment, You have not mastered the local lingo. When you cannot articulate your physical or mental suffering, or when you cannot communicate properly enough to buy medication and obtain treatment, language is a barrier.
  • The cost for treatment in the foreign country is exorbitant. Thanks to the NHS, healthcare is free in the UK.

How to get back to the UK in case of a medical emergency abroad?

A repatriation flight in case of a medical emergency abroad can sometimes be arranged via a commercial airliner, and always on a dedicated air ambulance.

A regular flight is not always appropriate for the medical repatriation of a patient with an unstable health condition, as previously stated. If your doctor certifies that you are fit to fly, please inquire about our medical escort service. Airline medical escort is a safe, quick, and cost-effective way to transport patients with minor medical needs who also meet airline regulations. On the other hand, and in contrast to commercial airliners with basic and frequently restricted medical resources, an international air ambulance is a specially modified aircraft designed to transport patients to the United Kingdom for medical care.

air ambulance

Our aeromedical transports look like executive aircraft from the outside, but on the inside, they are flying hospital units with advanced monitoring and intensive care technology. Our air ambulances are equipped to handle a wide range of patient needs, including high dependence, pediatric, and new-born patients, and are crewed by two pilots, as well as qualified, aero-medically trained doctors, nurses, and paramedics. They have all of the medical equipment and medication supplies they need to cope with any clinical circumstance, no matter how life-threatening it may be.

Using our private chartered air ambulances has various advantages. We offer a 365-day-a-year round-the-clock bed-to-bed service, so no matter how far out of season your trip plans are, you can be assured that you will be well taken care of. You will also receive the services of a multilingual case manager, who will be responsible for arranging hospital departures and admissions, as well as bed-to-bed ground ambulance transports.

How to book an air ambulance to get back to the UK

We have simplified the process of chartering an air ambulance:

Get in touch with our dispatch centre

Filling out the form below, calling or emailing us is the first step in booking an air ambulance flight. You will be contacted as soon as possible by a representative. Following that, your personal case manager will oversee all aspects of your medical transportation and provide you with information on the best air ambulance options. You will also obtain a free, non-binding price during this initial meeting.

Gather all of the requested documents (if necessary)

You may need to e-mail us a few vital documents so that we can book the flight as quickly as reasonably possible. Your medical records are often one of the most significant documents we will require since our doctor will analyse them to determine your eligibility for travel. We may also need your passport and, if necessary, a visa.

Prepare to board your medical flight

Once we get all of the necessary documentation, our representatives will begin planning your medical repatriation. All you have left to do now is wait for us to arrive. Every detail of your trip will be taken care of. Your personal case manager will book your flight on the specified date and time, arrange for ground transportation, and notify the receiving hospital of your arrival so that they can adequately accommodate you.

Do you have any additional questions?

Please go to our FAQ, if you are interested in learning more about what we have to offer.

Contact us right away for medical repatriation!

Please contact our 24-hour service at any time if you require additional information or a free non-binding quote. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff can be reached at: