New Students

Health Services

Information on accessing NHS healthcare as a student, disability support or insurance coverage

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.

Emergency Departments (Accident & Emergency)

The National Health Service (NHS)

The UK healthcare system is 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.

NHS 24 online advice

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.

More information about Registering with a doctor (part of Top 6 Tasks)

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.

NHS - Who is entitled?

Further information for students with families


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 paracetamol 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.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition

You should get advice from your home doctor before you start University about how you will continue to seek medical care in Edinburgh.

If you take any prescribed medicine, please ensure that you have at least 3 months supply of this medicine with you when arriving to Edinburgh. You will also need to carry a letter from your doctor (written in English) or a copy of your prescription when you travel too. 

Essential Vaccinations/Immunisations

Nurse injecting female patient
Information on the vaccinations and immunisations you are advised to have before you arrive at University. The University encourages you to protect yourself against meningitis and septicaemia.

Students with disabilities, chronic health conditions or a specific learning difficulties

Man in wheelchair speaking with a colleague
Information on how the University supports students with their disabilities, health conditions and learning difficulties

Dentists & Opticians

Information on how to access dental and optician services as a student

Private health insurance

Health insurance form & stethoscope
Private insurance might be an option for short term or visiting students who feel like they would like more medical support.

Feeling stressed or depressed?

You can seek help and advice at the Student Counselling Service.  Student Counselling Service can help you work through difficulties and find ways to manage your situation.

They offer in-person, telephone services and email counselling. 

Student Counselling


Related Links

Health and insurance - New students

Health and Healthcare (UKCISA)