A guide to healthcare for international students in the UK

If you’re visiting the UK as a student, it is very important that you make arrangements for healthcare. Our National Health Service (NHS) can at first seem complex and it’s likely you have a number of questions: Am I entitled to NHS healthcare? Are there certain procedures that are not covered? What do I do in the event of an emergency? In this article, we aim to answer all of these questions.

Understanding the UK’s National Health Service (NHS)

The NHS entitles all UK residents to free healthcare. This healthcare is paid for by UK taxpayers. The below table shows what is covered by the NHS and what is not covered:

Covered by the NHS Not Covered by the NHS
Doctor’s appointments

Most emergency treatments

Family planning services

Certain psychiatric treatments



Dental treatments

Optical treatments

To get treatment from a doctor, you will need to register with a General Practitioner (GP) upon arrival in the UK. Your host institution will provide you with information about GPs in your area.

A GP is usually the first port of call for health concerns. That being said, you can also visit a local pharmacy for minor health problems. Finally, if you think you have a major health issue, you must go to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department of a nearby hospital as soon as possible.

To help you understand whether you’d need to go to a GP, a pharmacy or A&E, here is what is treated by each service:

Visit a Pharmacy for Visit a GP Visit A&E
Coughs, colds, and sore throats.

Minor aches and pains

Skin conditions, such as eczema and acne.

Mild allergies such as hayfever

Minor cuts and bruises

Stomach problems such as indigestion, diarrhoea, and constipation.

Warts, mouth ulcers, and cold sores

Minor cuts or lacerations (cuts that are deep but still relatively minor)


Injuries to your muscles or joints, such as a sprained ankle.

Any help dressing or bandaging wounds.

Head injuries

Loss of consciousness

Suspected broken bones

Chest pains and difficulties with breathing

Major cuts and heavy blood loss

Ingestion of any poison or foreign bodies

Suspected overdose of prescription or recreational drugs.

Am I Entitled to Free NHS Care?

Access to NHS care depends on your nationality. If you are visiting from a country within the European Economic Area (EEA), you’re entitled to free NHS care. This is providing you hold a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You also do not need to pay for healthcare if your home country has a reciprocal healthcare agreement with the UK. Below is a list of countries that either are part of the EEA or have a UK healthcare agreement. Bear in mind that these lists are subject to change.

Countries that are members of the European Economic Area (EEA) Countries that have a reciprocal healthcare agreement in the UK (as of October 2018)
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. Anguilla, Australia, Bosnia, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Israel, Jersey, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Montserrat, New Zealand, Serbia, St Helena, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

If you are visiting from outside the EEA, or a country without a healthcare agreement and will be in the UK for longer than six months, you must pay an immigration health surcharge. For students, the charge is £300. This payment will be made as part of your student visa application. If you do not make this payment, your application will be declined. You will also need to provide information about your studies, such as the start and end date of your course.

To quickly summarise, you’ll have to pay the surcharge if you are:

  •      Not a member of the EEA
  •      Not a national of a country with a reciprocal healthcare agreement
  •      Studying in the UK for longer than six months.

What if I’m studying in the UK for less than six months?

If you are going to be studying in the UK for less than six months, you will have to pay for private medical insurance. Private medical insurance has a range of benefits. For example, you can be referred for specialist treatment by a GP. You will also likely have reduced waiting times for surgery if required. In the event of a hospital stay, your insurance will entitle you to a private hospital room.

If you are going to be studying in the UK for less than six months, you may not feel as though it is worth registering with a GP. GPs can have long waiting lists, as they often have a large number of patients. You may also have concerns about visiting a local doctor in an unfamiliar city. This is where Qured can be of valuable assistance.

Download the Qured app, and we can send a doctor to a convenient location in Greater London in just two hours. This could be your home, school, hotel or conference space. Our expert doctors will examine you upon arrival. They can then recommend further treatment if necessary. If you need medicine, this can be prescribed to you and even delivered to your door.

To learn more about receiving healthcare as an international student, contact Qured today. You can call us on +44 (0)203 948 1634 or send us a message online.



  Healthcare , Uncategorized