The National Health Service (NHS) is the UK's state health service.
Healthcare in the UK for EEA nationals
Nationals from Switzerland and the European Economic Area (EEA) coming to the UK are entitled to free NHS treatment. For stays of less than six months, students should carry a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to enable them to register for NHS services. It is advisable that for stays of longer than six months, EEA nationals also obtain an EHIC.
Healthcare in the UK for Tier 4 students studying for more than 6 months
Since 6 April 2015, any Tier 4 student and dependants (if applicable) who are making a new visa application, both in-country and overseas, are being asked to pay the NHS surcharge, or Immigration Health Surcharge.
For students the fee is £300 per year, and the same for any dependant family members. The total amount will be calculated as part of the online application process and the whole amount will be payable upfront. The surcharge will not apply to nationals of Australia and New Zealand where a reciprocal healthcare arrangement applies
For more information, please refer to the NHS Health Surcharge Fact Sheet
Healthcare in the UK for Tier 4 students studying for less than 6 months
Students who are on courses of less than six months and are from outside the EEA are always advised to secure private medical insurance before they travel to the UK since seeing a doctor or accessing healthcare in the UK will be charged at the point of usage. An exception to this rule is that the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department will treat all patients who require urgent care without charge, but you will have to pay for any further treatment as a private patient.
Registering with the National Health Service
To access the National Health Service you have to register with a doctor (General Practitioner or GP).
The NHS doctors at The University of Nottingham Health Service have a very large catchment area, so you may find this is the easiest practice to register with. Check the map on their website for more information. You can also find out more about registering with the University of Nottingham Health Service on their website too.
If you are arriving in September, then the Welcome Programme will include set times when you can register with a GP.
If you miss those appointment times or come at another time in the year, then you can go to The University of Nottingham Health Centre to register. To register you need to take your university offer letter confirming the duration of your course, along with proof of where you live. You will be asked to fill in some forms and you may be invited to have a simple medical examination.
Details of all NHS doctors are available on the NHS website.
For more information please read the questions and answers below and refer to our detailed guidance notes: Using health services in the UK
Frequently asked questions
What things aren't covered by the NHS?
Do students need to seek private insurance of any kind?
If you are on a short course, below six months, (or an overseas visiting family member) then you would need private insurance, otherwise the costs for healthcare can get very high. If you are eligible for NHS care, having paid the Immigration Health Surcharge then no, you would not normally need private insurance.
How does healthcare in the UK differ from that overseas?
The biggest difference is using a GP. It's a very different relationship. That doctor has your best interests at heart, they will treat you only based on true clinical needs.
Many conditions are viral and they aren't treated well by the use of tablets; your doctor will always do what's in your best interest. The doctor is also responsible for determining whether you go to the hospital or if you need to be referred to another colleague.
Does everything go through the GP?
Most things. If there is a true emergency then someone can access the hospital immediately by using the Accident and Emergency Department (A&E) but that is only when someone is immediately ill with a life threatening illness or an accident such as a broken bone.
What's a pharmacy?
A pharmacy is where you take your prescription. A prescription is the piece of paper that your doctor will give you if they feel that you need some medication.
Pharmacists are trained professionals who can advise you about minor ailments and they can give you medication straight away.
In the UK, Pharmacists are not allowed to give you antibiotics without a prescription from a doctor.