September 4, 2018, by Shweta

Healthcare in the UK – A Guide for International Students

As an aspiring doctor, one of the things that attracted me to the UK was its one-of-a-kind healthcare system. However, as a student, the differences in the system and its associated complications were a nightmare to navigate. As an incoming fresher, you’re bound to get fresher’s flu; and even if you dodge a bullet there, it’s unlikely you’ll never fall sick in your time here. So, keep reading to learn more about the NHS and what they can offer you as an international student.

If you’re in the UK on a Tier-4 student visa, the application costs cover an ‘Immigration Health Surcharge’, or IHS, which allows you to seek treatment under the NHS. This means that most of your medical expenses will be free of cost, aside from prescriptions which are usually at a fixed charge. You will also be charged for OTC medication. International students are also allowed to seek free medical treatment from the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department of QMC (or any of the other hospitals) for serious injuries or illnesses.

One of the first things I would suggest you do – and you will mostly be guided to do this by the welcome mentors during your welcome program – is register with the Cripps Health Centre. Our health center, located on the University Park campus, is undergoing renovations to make it one of the largest healthcare GP centers in the country and boasts wonderful facilities. When registering with them, make sure to provide a complete medical history and records of all vaccinations. Also, provide an up-to-date contact number and address and remember to update them should they change.

Secondly, I would strongly recommend stocking up on some medication to prevent trekking to Boots in the cold when you’re sick. Having some paracetamol, bandages, hot packs, allergy medication and cough lozenges on hand will be extremely helpful.

The NHS hotline, 111, will become a life-saver for you! If you’re ever worried about a medical concern, you can call 111 and speak to a fully trained professional who will give you advice on how to either help yourself or avail help from nearby. It is immensely comforting having such support at the push of a button, especially when it’s available 24×7!

Finally, don’t ever forgo your annual flu shot. Every winter, the NHS offers a flu shot which you can avail at Cripps, QMC or even some Boots stores. Not everyone, however, is eligible for it and if you’re not, you’ll have to go private which can mean paying up to 20 quid for the shot. I would still argue that it’s worth every penny. If you suffer from chronic illnesses like asthma you’re eligible for the free flu shot under the NHS.

In an ideal world, all of you would be able to work hard and party even harder across the next few years of your life but if you do fall sick, remember these tips and stay calm. And always remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle because prevention is always better than cure.


Until next time,


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