April 17, 2024 | Knowledge Bank

Healthcare for International Students in the UK

Adapting to a new environment can be quite a challenge for international students. Different variations in climate, food and lifestyle might impact your health. Moreover, the occasional tiredness from studying can also impact your well-being.

According to The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP) World Index of Healthcare Innovation in 2022, the UK ranked 15th for best healthcare systems globally. Here is how you can reap the benefits of the National Health Service (NHS) as an international student in the UK:

  • Pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

If you are studying for more than 6 months in the UK, you will be required to pay £776* per year for the IHS as part of your visa application. The IHS fee will cover your healthcare charges for the duration of your visa. However, if you are studying for less than 6 months, you will need to take out private medical insurance.

By purchasing the IHS, students can get access to some of the NHS services for free. The services include accident and emergency services, hospital treatment, General Practitioner (GP) services, reproductive health services, treatment of infectious diseases and many more. 

*) It is important to note that the fee may change from time to time.

  • Register with a GP

After paying for the IHS, you need to register with a GP shortly after arriving in the UK. GP is a doctor who handles general health problems. A GP can handle most illnesses, but they may refer you to a hospital to see a consultant or a specialist doctor if necessary. 

You can register with a GP at the nearest GP Surgery or Medical Centre from your accommodation. To register, you should provide at least one document that shows your identity, such as your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), birth certificate or passport. Most GP Surgeries have female and male doctors to accommodate patients’ requests to consult with a doctor of a specific gender. 

There is no charge to this process, it is better to do it as soon as possible to ensure that you have the best medical assistance when needed.

  • Receive your NHS number

Once you register with a GP, you will receive the NHS number consisting of 10 digits which will be used to prove your eligibility to access NHS services. You can find your NHS number by contacting your GP Surgery or using the NHS application on your phone.  The number will be listed on your GP Surgery’s database. 

This number will help the healthcare staff and service providers to identify your identity and health records.

  • Make use of the NHS services when needed

After completing the steps above, you are now able to access the NHS services for free! Be mindful, because you may still need to pay for certain healthcare services, like eye prescriptions and care, as well as dental services.

You can make an appointment with a GP by phone, in person or online. For urgent help, contact NHS 111 by phone or online. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Therefore, you can have a quick consultation about your health and seek the appropriate advice when necessary.