Registering with a GP
The National Health Service (NHS) is the UK’s state healthcare system providing a wide range of services. To access the NHS you must register with a General Practitioner (GP) which is a family doctor. We recommend you register as soon as you arrive in London especially if you require repeat prescriptions or frequent medical attention. If you are not a UK, EU or EEA citizen, you may need to pay a healthcare surcharge (called the ‘immigration health surcharge’ or IHS) as part of your visa application. We’ll email you more information about this when it’s time to apply for your visa.
You can register with the GP free of charge close to your accommodation. Please use the NHS Search to find a GP close to you.
You might need to visit the practice to complete your application.
If you are in London for less than 6 months, you are advised to take out medical insurance as you will be liable for NHS charges for the treatment you receive in the UK except for in a medical emergency and this is limited.
European Health Insurance Card
The EHIC is issued free of charge and is valid throughout the EEA and Switzerland. The card allows you access to state provided medical treatment (sometimes free or at a reduced cost), while temporarily staying in a member state. You will need to apply for an EHIC in your home country before coming to the UK; please consult your relevant Department of Health for further information on this.
For more information on health care for foreign students, please refer to www.foreignstudents.com/health
Dentistry in the UK is not free. You can register with any dentist of your choice. Some dentist surgeries accept both NHS and private patients. You will need to complete some simple registration forms at reception. Private paying patients will receive faster and more convenient appointment times, with the option of booking on a Saturday. NHS patients will often wait a little longer but treatment is not inferior. NHS dentist patients will receive subsidised prices; however, you must be aware that treatment is not entirely free. To find your local dentist, please use the NHS Search.
Opticians’ services are not free in the UK. We recommend that if you wear contact lenses or glasses, that you update your prescription before coming to the UK, in addition to bringing your prescription information. You can find your nearest optician via the NHS website.
What to do in an emergency
If you find yourself or someone else requiring urgent medical attention and are in immediate danger, call 999 and request an ambulance.
If you need urgent care advice day or night and health and dental support when your GP practice or dentist is closed, call 111 or visit the website https://111.nhs.uk/. The service can also help if you are in mental distress.
If you require medical attention, but you are not in immediate danger, you can also go to the Accident and Emergency department of the nearest hospital – this is free of charge but long waiting times are usually encountered.
Call 101 for non-emergency police enquiries.
Pharmacies and Medicines
You will find pharmacies (also known as chemists) all over the city, usually marked with a green cross. High-street pharmacies such as Boots and Superdrug are very common and sometimes offer more convenient prices, as opposed to independent pharmacies. The UK offers many medicines and over the counter treatments for minor ailments at fairly low prices; these can also be purchased from a supermarket. Antibiotics and stronger medicines will require a prescription from your local GP.
Free contraception is available for full-time students from most family planning clinics. More information can be found on the NCH website or by speaking with the Student Support and Development Team.
Other than the NHS, private healthcare is also an option, offering much quicker appointments and treatment, however this does come at a cost. Private medical insurance may also be necessary if you do not fully qualify for NHS treatment, so please verify this before moving to the UK.
London is one of top cities in the world for advanced medical care, so finding a private clinic will not be difficult.
Endsleigh insurance offers low prices specifically for students and is the only insurance provider recommended by the NUS (National Union of Students). Please visit their website for further information. If you already have an insurance policy in your home country, please check to see its validity for the duration of your stay in the UK.