Register with a GP/doctor
It is important that you register with a doctor as soon as possible after your arrival in Edinburgh. You can research GP Practices before you arrive, and then register once you are in Edinburgh. We want to make sure that you look after yourself whilst studying, both physically and mentally, and that you know how to get medical assistance if you need it.
Healthcare in Scotland
The National Health Service (NHS) is a free health care service for all residents of the UK. Once you arrive at university, we recommend that you register with a local doctor, who will provide medical care if required.
If you are already registered with a GP (General Practitioner) in another part of the UK, we recommend that you register with an Edinburgh practice, if that will be your main home whilst at University.
If you are studying in Edinburgh for longer than three months, you can register with your nearest doctor, known as a General Practitioner (GP). If you are on a short-term visit or travelling from overseas see further guidance below.
There are current challenges in certain areas for new patients registering with a general practice with some practices unable to absorb the new demand with current workforce and premises. It may therefore take longer than normal to register with a practice.
Find your local GP practices
Once you arrive in Edinburgh, you will need to register with a GP that is close to your term-time address as a student.
Some GP practices fill up quickly with new students, so we recommend looking up at least three different options that are closest to your semester-time address in Edinburgh.
You can only register with a GP after you have arrived in Edinburgh but you can do your research in advance.
Use our handy Google Map to find a GP, hospital, and pharmacy closest to your Edinburgh accommodation.
Open the map and tick the services you are looking for in the side menu, and they will appear on the map:
University Health Centre
The University Health Service is an NHS GP practice located on Bristo Square, Central Campus. This practice will register students who live within the area covered by the practice whether in private or university accommodation if capacity allows after students have arrived in Edinburgh.
All registrations are undertaken digitally via the practice website. Please do not go to the practice to register in person.
There is no direct transfer of your medical records between general practices. You will need to register with a practice in Edinburgh, and they will arrange to transfer your records from your previous GP.
It is important to note that this can take some considerable time at present so if you do have an ongoing health condition please bring a summary of your condition with you and provide this to your new GP.
Contact a GP practice
Once you have found your nearest GP practices, check their website for information on when registration for new students will take place.
You will be required to complete one or two forms for registration. Details of how to register and the registration forms you are required to complete (including further documentation that will be required for proof of address/identity and student status) will usually be outlined on the GP practice website and/or within the registration forms.
You may be required to download these forms to complete them, with further information provided from the GP practice on how they wish forms to be returned. Read their website carefully and call the contact number on the GP practice website if you have any questions.
After registering with a GP practice
After you have registered, check that you understand how your GP Practice works – where you need to go to see a doctor, how you make an appointment, how you order a prescription, etc.
Some GP Practices are just open on weekdays, while some are also open on Saturdays and evenings. We recommend you look up the opening times of each GP Practice on their individual websites.
There is no link between NHS services and the University, so the information you give the University is not shared with your GP and vice versa. You need to give consent for any GP information to be shared with the University. If you change your address, phone number, or email, you must let your GP know as well as the University.
There is no secure link between University or personal email addresses and the NHS so please avoid sending sensitive or personal information by email. If you do, your GP practice cannot respond to you in any detail.
I can't find a GP practice who are accepting patients
If you can't find a GP yourself, you can ask your NHS Board to find one for you. To do this, you should send an email or letter to explain your situation.
If all the GP practices in your local area are full, contact Practitioner Services using the contact details below. They can offer more guidance and, where necessary, allocate a practice to you.
0131 275 7038
If you are studying in Edinburgh full-time as a visiting student on the Standard Visitor route and you experience illness or an accident, you will be able to access NHS treatment. This is provided for free, though you may have to pay for dentistry and some more specialised services. You may also find some medications available in pharmacies and shops.
You can still receive emergency treatment and 14 days of further medical support with your nearest GP if you:
- are studying for less than three months
- or were unable to register with a doctor straight away
In this situation, you should contact your local GP, explain that you are only staying in Edinburgh for a short time, and ask if they are able to see you. Please call as early in the day as possible.
Visit the NHS Inform website to find out how to register with a GP.
It must not be your intention to access healthcare when you travel. We advise that students take out adequate travel insurance which includes a medical component and also protection to cover personal items, such as baggage, books, personal computers, etc.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition, we strongly advise that you contact the Student Disability Service which will be able to provide advice and support about treatment and medication.
You should research the options available to you and select the insurance policy which is most suited to your situation. However, the National Union of Students (NUS) recommends Endsleigh, which has specific insurance for international students in the UK.
Existing medical conditions
If you are from overseas, the GP surgery will not have access to your previous medical history. It is very important to bring a comprehensive and up-to-date summary of your medical record with you and any proposed management plan (all written in English).
If you suffer from an ongoing chronic illness, requiring regular medication, you must bring at least a 3-month supply with you and consult with your registered doctor soon after you arrive. It is helpful to carry your medication in its original packaging so that it can be easily identified.
Not all medications used overseas are available in the UK, via the NHS, so it's important to have your own supply if time is needed to identify alternatives.
If you have a diagnosis of ADHD and are taking a form of Amphetamine, we suggest you try to bring a lengthy supply of the medication with you, accompanied by a medical note.
These medications are classed as controlled substances in the UK, and cannot be prescribed without visiting a hospital consultant. In order to get an appointment with a consultant, you will need to be referred by your GP, this can sometimes take in excess of 10 months.
You should speak to your GP in the UK if you want to have these medications prescribed locally at some point in order to initiate a referral as soon as possible.
Emergency medical assistance
If you are unable to get to a GP or need immediate medical advice, you can:
call NHS24 by phoning 111
- visit NHS24 online
If you are in serious need of emergency medical attention, call Emergency Services on 999, even if you have not registered with a GP in advance.