When you arrive in the UK you should arrange access to healthcare. You should register with a doctor and find out about accessing healthcare through the National Health Service (NHS).
Emergency services - call 999
For emergency services, including police, fire brigade and ambulance, call 999.
Emergency services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The National Health Service (NHS)
The UK healthcare system called the National Health Service (NHS). It is publicly funded which means that healthcare is paid for through taxes, not when medical treatment is needed.
Generally, students do not have to pay for medical treatment. If you study in the UK for more than three months you should be eligible for healthcare treatment through the NHS.
Most doctors, hospitals and other healthcare professionals are provided for through the NHS.
NHS 24 - call 111
NHS 24 provides health information and self care advice.
If you need to speak to a doctor outside opening hours (non-emergency) you can contact NHS 24 by calling 111.
Registering with a doctor
You need to register with a General Practitioner (GP) when you arrive in the UK. Do not wait until you are ill or require treatment to register.
Registering with a GP is easy and free. You may be able to register with the University Health Centre.
You can find a list of your local GP surgeries on the NHS 24 website.
To register you need to live in permanent accommodation - your GP must be in your local area. If you move home, you may need to register with a new GP.
You will also need to complete a form and undergo a health check to register.
Studying for less than 3 months
If you are coming to study in the UK for less than three months, you may not be able to register with a GP. You should get medical insurance before travelling, as the cost of treatment can be expensive - some NHS services, such as emergency treatment, are free and some services have to be paid for.
Some dentists in the UK provide NHS services. This means some of the cost of dental treatment is covered. Typically this covers up to 80% of the cost, so you would still have to pay some of the cost.
Others dentists provide private dental care which can be expensive.
If you need to see a dentist on a regular basis or may require major dental treatments you should consider getting medical insurance.
The NHS may provide a free eye examination but you will need to ask an optician’s practice whether they can offer this service.
The cost of prescription glasses or contact lenses is rarely covered by the NHS.
If your doctor recommends you take medication you will get a prescription. A chemist (pharmacist) will dispense your prescription.
You do not need to pay for prescriptions in Scotland.
Some medicines are available without a prescription, such as paracetemol or cough syrup. You can buy them in chemists and other shops, such as supermarkets.
Some medication from your doctor, such as travel vaccinations, are not free.
Pre-existing medical conditions
If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, contact the University Health Centre for advice before travelling to the UK.
If you need to bring prescribed medicine with you, carry a letter from your doctor or a copy of your prescription when you travel.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, it may be worth buying insurance to cover the cost of private healthcare and specialist treatments.
If you are a non-EU/EEA/Swiss student coming to the UK for less than 3 months, it is highly advisable that you buy medical insurance.
Endsleigh offers an insurance policy specifically designed for international students.
Feeling stressed or depressed?
You may be experiencing culture shock. This is normal and you can take steps to overcome the symptoms.
You can also seek help and advice. The Student Counselling Service can help you work through difficulties and find ways to manage your situation.