Guide to UK Healthcare for International Students
Moving to a new country is a very difficult time for every student as there are a lot of things to work out. For instance, there are differences in weather, food, rules, and customs to deal with. In all these things we fail to pay attention to our health and fall prey to illness. However, you don’t have to worry as the UK healthcare is considered as the best healthcare system in the world. It provides free healthcare to all under the NHS (National Health Service) including full-time international students.
If you become unwell during your time in the UK then you’ll need to know the following things about the medical care you can receive.
In the UK, you’re entitled to receive NHS (National Health Service) Primary care medical services at a GP (general practitioner) surgery without charge. This is the first place to visit for medical treatment. You will need a letter from your College and your passport as proof you are a student. Most problems and illness can be treated by the GP, but if you need to see a specialist for specific treatment or tests that they may not be able to provide onsite. You have to take a referral from your GP and set an appointment before your visit.
Health Centres and GP surgeries are normally open during the daytime and early evening. In case of any emergency, you can visit the local hospital near your college which have an NHS Walk-in Clinic. If you have a minor health problem such as a cold, sore throat or dry skin, you can visit a pharmacy (chemist) to buy medicines.
However, if you are applying for a Tier 4 student visa and coming to the UK for 6 months or longer you will be required to pay an immigration health surcharge as part of their visa application fee. You are not required to take a shot of any specific vaccinations to enter the UK. However, people of certain countries require screening for tuberculosis. You can bring vaccination records with you to show to a doctor if you need to.
If you are suffering from a medical condition and are already receiving treatment for it or are on specific medication then it is even more important to register with a GP as soon as you arrive. This is important because it is highly likely you will need to see a doctor at some point during your stay at the university, even if only for a prescription or a check-up. This is also useful to you if you are awaiting test results or diagnosis from your doctors at home.
In the case of dental treatment, you have to contribute towards the cost of your dental treatment even though you are covered under NHS treatment. If you are not covered under NHS or the dentist does not take NHS patients, in such case you have to pay the full amount of your treatment.
However, you may be able to get free dental treatment from the students studying at a dental hospital. The best thing is that it applies to everyone whether they are entitled to NHS treatment or not.
Eyecare is also not free under the NHS and you will normally have to pay a minimum charge for an eye test, around £20 on the NHS.
Tip: You can apply for help with the cost of your eye test and glasses or contact lenses based on low income in the same way as for prescriptions and dental treatment.
These are some of the things to know before starting a new chapter in the UK.
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