Information for international students

The UK health system and what you are entitled to

If your course lasts six months or more

  • You are eligible for healthcare under the National Health Service (NHS). This covers consultations with doctors and hospital treatment for conditions that arise while you are in the UK.
  • Not all conditions and treatments are covered by the NHS.
  • The NHS will not usually fund: treatments for which there is no scientific evidence of benefit; cosmetic procedures; treatments for mild conditions which will resolve on their own; and interventions which do more harm than good.

If your course lasts less than six months

  • You are not entitled to free NHS healthcare so it is important you take out comprehensive medical insurance before you leave home.
  • You will have to pay for any medicines prescribed by a doctor.

You may not get the same care in the UK as you get in your home country. For more details of eligibility for NHS care please visit the UK council for international student affairs website.

Before you come to Bristol University - checklist

  • Arrange to get yourself immunised against measles, mumps, rubella and meningitis before you leave.
  • Visit your dentist and/or optician before leaving home as care can be expensive in the UK.
  • You are not covered by the NHS until you have registered as a student with the University. We recommend that you take out health insurance to cover your journey to Bristol and any time spent in the UK before you register with a doctor.
  • If you have a pre-existing medical condition, bring a summary of your medical records with you, including diagnosis and treatment details. Ideally this should be translated in English prior to arrival.
  • If you have a serious illness or are currently undergoing treatment or investigation, please bring a doctor’s letter in English summarising your medical history to your first appointment. This will help the doctor organise your ongoing healthcare in the UK.
  • Bring details in English of any past physical or mental illnesses requiring medical treatment, and a full record of past immunisations.

If you are on regular medication

  • We can only prescribe medication that is approved by the NHS. If you are not sure if you can get your medication in the UK, bring enough for the duration of your stay.
  • Some medications in UK are only able to be prescribed by specialist doctors.
  • Bring enough supplies of  your medication (if you are taking any) to cover at least your first two months here.
  • If you are bringing prescribed drugs or medication with you, you will need a letter of explanation from your doctor.
  • Bring your European Health Card (EEA students only) to access hospital treatment.

When you arrive - checklist

  • Register with a doctor once you know your Bristol address, (also known as a General Practitioner - GP)
  • Book an appointment to discuss your medication requirements soon after your arrive to avoid a delay in supply.
  • Download the ESC Student app (iOS and Android) for reliable and relevant health care advice wherever you are.
  • Read 'Your guide - where to go when you’re unwell'.

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