Health in the UK

The UK healthcare system

You’ll need to think about healthcare before you study abroad. The UK has one of the best healthcare systems in the world. And, we’ll help you understand what’s available and how to access it.

The UK has public healthcare, which means it is publically funded through taxes and health insurance. It’s called the National Health Service (NHS). 

Live in the European Economic Area (EEA)? You’ll need to obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before coming to the UK. This card entitles you to NHS care in the UK.

From outside the EEA?

Studying in the UK for 6 months or more? You’ll pay Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) when you apply for a visa. This entitles you for NHS treatment while you’re in the UK. You’ll be able to get free treatment at NHS hospitals and register with a doctor and an NHS dentist. You may still need to pay for medicines prescribed by a doctor or dental.

Studying in the UK for less than 6 months? You’ll only get free NHS treatment in an emergency. GPs may treat you for free, but usually only when it’s urgent treatment that can’t wait until you return home. You’ll have to pay for any other treatment as a private patient, which you may be able to claim from your medical insurance plan.

The Immigration Health Surcharge is £150 per person. Any dependent family members who are applying for visas will also have to pay the surcharge.

Health insurance

You will need to have full travel, medical and health insurance. You can either buy your own insurance or we will add Uniplan Insurance to your course fees. This covers:

  • reimbursement of your prepaid course fees due to cancelling, cutting short or repeating your course due to accident, illness or sickness 
  • the cost of bringing a relative to the UK to visit you following a medical emergency 
  • medical costs which are not covered by the National Health Service if you are taken ill or have an accident 
  • your legal liability to pay damages if you accidentally injure someone, or damage their property

Registering for healthcare

You’ll need to register with a General Practitioner (GP or doctor) when you arrive. Our friendly reception staff will help you find the nearest GP practice (sometimes called a surgery).

If you’re eligible for NHS treatment, you’ll also be able to get treatment from any dentist accepting new NHS patients. It isn’t always easy to find a dentist that accepts new patients. Again, our staff will help you find one.

Eye tests are available at opticians, which can be found on the High Street. You’ll pay about £20 for an eye test. And, lenses and frames cost £35 and upwards.

In an emergency

In a medical emergency, you should call 999.

For less urgent medical issues, you should make an appointment with your doctor or practice nurse. For minor issue, Walk-In Centres are available in most towns and cities. Minor Injury Clinics are also often available, often alongside Accident & Emergency departments at general hospitals. 

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