How to Find a Doctor as an International Student

Different rules apply for finding a doctor if you are an international student from the European Economic Area or not.  The National Health Service (NHS) is a publically funded health care system that providing health care for the residents of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  If you fall ill or need to access treatment while living in the UK you may be required to provide documentation.  This guide explains what the NHS is, how to find the medical help you require and what documents need to be completed to receive this medical help.

Contents

1.Introduction: What is the European Economic Area (EEA)

2.Introduction: What is the National Health Service (NHS)

3.How to find a doctor if you are a student from the European Economic Area (EEA)

4.Do I need Healthcare Insurance if I come from the EEA

5.How do I register for health care as a student from the EEA

6.How can I access hospital treatment if I come from the EEA

7.How to find a doctor if you are from OUTSIDE the EEA.

8.How do I register for health care as a student from OUTSIDE the EEA

9.How can I access hospital treatment as a international student from OUTSIDE the EEA

What is the European Economic Area (EEA)

The European Economic Area includes all European Union member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.  Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are part of the EEA EFTA states.  If you are a national holding a passport from one of the European Union states, or Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway you should qualify as a EEA citizen.  If you do not have nationality from one of these states you will be classified as being from outside the EEA.  Please refer to the appropriate guidance for EEA citizens and Non-EEA citizens.

What is the National Health Service (NHS)

The National Health Service (NHS) is a provider of healthcare in the UK.  The NHS is free at the point of use for all UK residents.  Planned care and accident and emergency care provided at hospitals are part of the NHS.  Care and treatment provided by General Practitioners is also included.  The NHS is funded by taxes and employs more than 1.5 million people.

How to find a doctor if you are a Student from the European Economic Area (EEA)

As a student from the EEA you will need to register with a doctor, known as a General Practitioner (GP).  GP doctors are often based in small organisations called practices, health centres, medical groups or surgeries.  These organisations provide care for UK residents from childhood to old age.  The location and other information about these practices can be found here doctors near my university

Do I need Healthcare Insurance if I come from the EEA

If you are a student from another country in the European Union, living in the UK for less than 6 months, you will require a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which must be obtained from your home country.

The EHIC card allows you to access free NHS treatment that is medically required while you live in the UK.  This covers any medically necessary treatment.  If you as an international student require medical treatment that can’t wait until you return to your home country you are covered with a valid EHIC card.  This includes treatment for pre-existing medical conditions and maternity care.  The cost of your care is then recovered from your country of residence.

Information about how to acquire a EHIC card can be found here http://ec.europa.eu

EHIC leaflet

https://www.internationalstudents.cam.ac.uk/files/healthcare_information_eea_students.pdf

The EHIC issued by an EEA member state means you hold comprehensive sickness insurance for your time studying in the UK.

How do I register with a Doctor if I come from the EEA

To register with a doctor as a EEA resident first find a doctor close to your home or university here doctors close to my university

  • Type in your address in the box and search.
  • A list of NHS doctors from the area will be listed.
  • Contact the practice and ask them if they are accepting new patients and how to register.

Most doctors that are near universities or areas where students live will be used to students from the EEA area trying to access healthcare.

  • Registration is free
  • You can only be registered with one GP/health centre at any time.

Most medical practices will require basic details such as your

  • Name
  • Home address in the UK,
  • The date you came into the UK and
  • Proof that you have registered with the university or college.

Some practices may not be accepting new patients, if that is the case then you will need to find an alternative doctor.

After you have completed the registration process you will be sent a NHS number.

NHS number

This NHS number shows that you qualify for NHS treatment and should be delivered to your UK address within eight weeks.  If you have not received your NHS number within this time contact the health centre you registered with and ask for their advice.  If you move address after registering inform your health centre as the number will be sent to your home address.

The NHS number is an important.  You should take it with you every time you visit a doctor, dentist or the hospital.  Your NHS number is unique to you and helps healthcare providers and staff identify your health records, so you receive safe and effective care from the NHS.

Please note, in NHS medical cards are no longer issued in England.  In recent years this has been replaced for all patients with an NHS number.

How can I access hospital treatment if I come from the EEA

If you require more specialised or hospital services you will need to be referred by a GP.  For unplanned care there are a number of alternatives

  • Calling 999
  • Visiting Accident and Emergency
  • Dialling 111
  • Going to a local ‘Walk in Centre’
  • Having a GP consultation

How to find a doctor if you are from OUTSIDE the EEA

Students from countries outside of the EEA area are able to register with doctors in the UK.  Before you arrive in the UK it is required that you pay a health immigration surcharge.  This surcharge should be paid as part of your visa application process.

The immigration health surcharge is currently (2017) £150 per year that a visa is granted for.  If a visa is granted for more than 6 months the full £150 will have to be paid.  This is an additional fee in addition to any other visa fees.

Further information on the immigration health surcharge can be found here https://www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/overview

Once the immigration health surcharge is paid students are able to access NHS services like any UK resident.  Medical assistance can be received from doctors, dentists or at hospitals.  If you have private medical insurance in your own country, you may wish to see if this can be extended to the UK.  This can’t replace paying the immigration health surcharge.

How can I register for health care as a student from abroad

As a student you will need to register with a doctor, known as a General Practitioner (GP).  GP doctors are often based in small organisations called practices, health centres, medical groups or surgeries.  These organisations provide care for UK residents from childhood to old age.  The location and other information about these practices can be found here doctors close to university.

To register with a doctor first find a doctor close to your home or university click on the doctors close to university link.

  • Type in your address in the box and search.
  • A list of NHS doctors from the area will be listed.
  • Contact the practice and ask them if they are accepting new patients and how to register.

Most doctors that are near universities or areas where students live will be used to students trying to access healthcare.

  • Registration is free
  • You can only be registered with one GP/health centre at any time.

Most medical practices will require basic details such as your

  • Name
  • Home address in the UK,
  • The date you came into the UK and
  • Proof that you have registered with the university or college.

Some practices may not be accepting new patients, if that is the case then you will need to find an alternative doctor.

After you have completed the registration process you will be sent a NHS number.

NHS number

This NHS number shows that you qualify for NHS treatment and should be delivered to your UK address within eight weeks.  If you have not received your NHS number within this time contact the health centre you registered with and ask for their advice.  If you move address after registering inform your health centre as the number will be sent to your home address.

The NHS number is an important.  You should take it with you every time you visit a doctor, dentist or the hospital.  Your NHS number is unique to you and helps healthcare providers and staff identify your health records, so you receive safe and effective care from the NHS.

Please note, in NHS medical cards are no longer issued in England.  In recent years this has been replaced for all patients with an NHS number.

How can I access hospital treatment if I come from OUTSIDE the EEA

If you require more specialised or hospital services you will need to be referred by a GP.  For unplanned care there are a number of alternatives

  • Calling 999
  • Visiting Accident and Emergency
  • Dialling 111
  • Going to a local ‘Walk in Centre’
  • Having a GP consultation
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