Healthcare information for international students
Find out about healthcare in the UK, what medical care you are eligible for and what is available.
National Health Service
The UK has the National Health Service (NHS). The NHS is a publicly-funded system which provides healthcare for residents in the UK.
Ways to get healthcare
When you arrive in the UK, you should register with your local doctor, (also known as a General Practioner or GP).
If you think you need medical advice or assistance, you should visit your doctor as a first step in getting help. They can give you advice and refer you to another doctor if needed.
You can also visit an NHS walk-in centre if your situation is urgent but not life-threatening.
You can dial 111 to call the NHS helpline for urgent advice if the situation is not life-threatening.
You can dial 999 if you are in a life-threatening emergency.
For minor illnesses, such as colds, you can visit a pharmacy to buy medicine. Pharmacies can also offer advice on what medicine to buy. For more serious conditions, you will need to visit your doctor. They may provide you with a prescription. You can only be prescribed medicine in the UK that has been approved by the NHS. If you already take a certain type of medication, you may not be able to get the same here.
The NHS does not cover certain medical care. Certain conditions and treatments are not covered, including:
- treatments for which there is no scientific evidence for any benefits
- cosmetic procedures
- treatments for mild conditions which will resolve on their own
- interventions which do more harm than good.
You might also find that waiting times to be seen by a doctor, or a specialist is longer than you are used to.
If your course lasts six months or more
You are covered by the NHS. If you are an EEA national, you must bring your European Health Card.
If your course lasts less than six months
You are not covered by the NHS. You should take out medical insurance to cover medical costs. You will also need to pay for any medicines prescribed by a doctor.
Find out more
- The United Kingdom Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) has more information about healthcare in the UK, including how to access healthcare and more information about what you can expect from the NHS.
- Download the ESC Student app (iOS and Android) for reliable and relevant healthcare advice.
Read our checklist before you arrive to make sure you are prepared for living in the UK and do not have trouble with your healthcare.