Health advice for foreign students in the United Kingdom
Foreign students are required to meet three conditions to be eligible for treatment from the NHS ( National Health Service )
- Be registered on a full-time course.
- The course must be delivered by a recognised institution.
- The course must be of six months or more in duration.
Students that DO NOT meet these conditions are only entitled to emergency treatment from the NHS. Here you will be seen by a doctor, free of charge, only for a condition or treatment that cannot wait until you return to your country.
Any other treatment you receive will be considered to be 'Private' and can prove to be very expensive. It is for this reason that we reccommend all students take out insurance with medical cover during their stay. Study English in the UK can provide you with further information with regard to insurance cover.
What treatments are free?
If you meet the three conditions stated, you will be entitled to the following services:
- Treatment from a GP (General Practitioner) and the majority of services that a doctor of general medicine provides.
- Treatment at a hospital (emergency and non emergency).
If you qualify for NHS treatment (see above), then you are entitled to free contraception. You can also can receive advice in birth control from the 'FPC' (Family Planning Clinic) which also administers pregnancy tests and contraception free of charge.
The use of condoms, a form of contraception, can prevent pregnancy and the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases. You can ask your GP for free condoms, or, they are available to purchase from pharmacies, supermarkets, public toilets and filling stations.
What treatments are not free of charge?
- Some services are provided with a supplementary charge:
- Medicine prescribed by your GP is sold by pharmicies at a price of £ 7.
- Some specific treatments such as vaccinations for diseases
- Dental care
- Opticians (eye care)
Help with the cost of health care
The majority of students who qualify for treatment from the NHS can get help with medical prescriptions, eye care and dental treatment. This help is targeted towards those of a low income. To receive this aid, you must complete an HC1 form or if you have already paid for treatment and wish to be reimbursed, then you need to complete an HC5 form.
Those who meet any of the following criteria are automatically entitled to free medical prescriptions:
- In full-time education.
- Under 19 years old
- Given birth within the previous 12 months
- If you have any children under the age of 16, they will also be entitled to free medical prescriptions.
For further information you can contact the NHS by telephone on 44(0)20 7210 4850.
Where do I go to receive medical treatment?
Your first point of contact will be your local General Practitioner (GP). GP's are trained doctors that specialise in diagnosing and treating all kinds of health problems. It is advised that you register with a local GP as soon possible after your arrival in the United Kingdom. Many universities have their own medical centers providing GP's and nurses that are familiar with common health problems among the student population. The majority of medical conditions can be diagnosed and treated by your GP. However, if you require specialist treatment, your GP can refer you to a specialist within the relevant department of a hospital. Your local Medical Center can also provide you with other common health services such as vaccinations, mother and child care etc.
It may be possible that you may need to receive treatment from an NHS hospital during your time in the UK. Depending on your medical condition, you will either be hospitalised (in which case, you will be admitted into a hospital room for a minimum of 1 night) or treated as an outpatient (in which case, you will go to the hospital for an appointment or treatment that does not require an overnight stay). Unless you have been admitted to hospital in the case of an accident or emergency, you will require a refferral from your GP to receive treatment.
Accident and Emergency
If you have had an accident or contracted a serious medical condition that is in need of urgent medical attention, you can admitt yourself into the 'Accident and Emergency' department of an hospital. These departments are accessible 24 hours a day and can be found in almost every hospital within the UK. Please note that unless you are sufferring from an extremely serious condition, you should contact your GP who will be on call 24 hours a day.
How do I register with a General Practitioner (GP)?
You should register with a doctor as soon as you begin your studies in the United Kingdom. Do not wait until you are unwell as it will prove to be difficult to receive immediate treatment . Your school or University may have a medical center on their campus which you can register with. Alternatively, you can register with a doctor close to where you live. A list of all the doctors in your area is available from either the Health Authority or your local Post Office .
- To register, you need to visit the medical center during their normal opening hours.
- You should take your letter of acceptance or a letter from your institution that signifies that you are a registered student on a course.
- You will be required to fill out some forms to complete the registration process and be added to the NHS patient register.
- You can ask to be on the patient register of either a male or female doctor. If you only want to be seen by a certain doctor, you must notify the receptionist each time you make an appointment.
- If you are accepted as a patient, a medical card with your NHS number will be sent to you by post.
If the doctor cannot accept you, (this may be due to limited capacity) then you should try to register with another GP in your area or contact the NHS on 44(0)20 7210 4850.
What do I do in case of a medical emergency?
If you or another individual is in need of urgent medical attention you should contact the emergency services immediately. Here is how to do it:
- Dial 999. This is a completely free service available from any telephone or mobile.
- An operator will answer your call immediately and will ask you to specify which emergency service (Police, Ambulance, Fire Brigade) you require.
- You must attempt to remain calm in order to provide details of your location and the situation you are in.
- An ambulance and paramedics will attend the scene and transport any injured individuals to the hospital.
If you need urgent medical attendance and are capable of walking, you should attend the 'Accident & Emergency' department at the hospital.