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THE UK: Latest News

Student health services in the UK

A guide to the NHS and health services open to UK students.

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It is important that you feel safe and remain healthy whilst studying. When living in a foreign country, many international students feel nervous or uncertain about the quality and availability of medical care. There are a number of different resources open to you in the UK which will be ready and willing to take care of you if and when you need it.  HotcoursesTurkish student editor, Cansu Alemdar, gives you her tips on getting the most out of the medical help that is available in the UK.

NHS-National Health Service

If you are an international student who will be in the UK for more than 6 months then you are eligible for healthcare benefits from the National Health Service (NHS). This means that you can see a doctor, have a check-up and be treated free of charge (excluding eye and dental problems). However, you will need to pay a certain amount for any prescribed drugs that you get from the pharmacy.

In order to use the NHS, you will first need to register with your local General Practitioner (also referred to as a GP) soon after you arrive in the UK. Many UK universities have a health centre on campus specifically for student care, where you can get check-ups, inoculations prescriptions and treatment. Alternatively, you can look for Family Health Service Agency in the phonebook or on the internet and then call them to get a list of local doctors. You can also locate your local GP by visiting the NHS website.

After you have registered, you will receive an NHS card (with your NHS number on it) sent to your home address. You will need this each time you visit your doctor.

To visit Optician and Dentist

In the UK, medical attention for your eyesight and for dental health is not free. You should register to a local dentist (separate from your GP) and an optician if you require treatment. There are NHS dentists available, but these often have a very long waiting list (sometimes as much as 18 months!), so it is wise to locate and register with one as early as possible. Like dental health, eye-care in the UK is privatised, which means that you will be expected to pay for all treatment, including eye examinations, spectacles and lenses.

As an international student, financial help is available to you. You will need to fill out and send an HCI form to the stated address on the document. You can get this form from hospitals, post offices or from social security centres. It will entitle you to help with NHS prescription and dental charges, optical treatment and even hospital travel costs.

Health Insurance

Most universities in the UK offer health insurance to their students. You can register for this right after you get accepted to a programme at the university. The weekly cost of a health insurance is approximately £10. Alternatively, you can get insurance in your home country which will be valid when you are living abroad.  

The important thing to remember is that you are not alone when studying abroad. If you become ill or get an injury, there are many services set up in the UK that are ready to help you through. Just be brave and don’t be afraid to ask for help!


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