The National Health Service (NHS) is the main healthcare system in the UK. You are eligible for treatment by the NHS if you are resident in the UK, or if you are studying full time on a course that will last longer than 6 months.
The NHS website (NHS choices) has a wealth of information on health services in your area, conditions, well-being issues and costs.
This may all seem a little daunting and may be a different health system to one you are used to, but remember the College Nurse, Porters and your Tutor can provide information and support so please contact any of them for further assistance.
Registering with a Doctor
It is strongly recommended that you register with a GP (Doctor) as soon as possible after your arrival in Cambridge, even if you do not expect to need medical support or treatment during your time here. Please pick one from those available in the area by entering your Cambridge post code into the NHS choices web page following the link above.
You can visit the GP practice to register or some are able to register you on-line.
The College Nurse can assess your symptoms prior to seeing a GP and may be able to save you a journey! Further information about the College Nurse is available on her page. However, if you do need to see a Doctor please allow only one health issue per appointment, as each consultation is time-limited to 10 minutes.
A list of Cambridge GP surgeries can be found here.
Long term health conditions
Please bring with you documentary evidence from your Doctor (in English) as confirmation for any existing long term health conditions, including any medication details or treatment plan, to show to the College Nurse and your chosen GP practice. It is advisable to request an appointment with a GP to discuss your needs. The GP will give you relevant information about clinics, vaccines or prescriptions and if necessary make any referrals to specialists.
Bring any medication with you
If you need ongoing medication in the UK, the GP reception will explain how they arrange repeat prescriptions for when you are anticipating your first supply of medication to run out. Please note, it can take up to 48hrs to obtain a repeat prescription, and may be longer than that for the medication to be sourced by the Pharmacist. GPs also reserve the right not to prescribe certain medication and not all medication from outside the UK is available on the NHS.
If you have specialised medication, or you are in any doubt that it is available in the UK, then you are advised to bring enough supply with you.
Private medical insurance
Addenbrooke's Hospital Paying Patient office advises all overseas students to take out private health insurance before coming to the UK to cover the following potential health-related costs:
- Loss of fees if you are unable to complete your course
- Additional treatment and medical expenses not covered by the National Health Service
- Costs of returning home if a relative is taken ill
- Costs of a relative visiting you in the UK if you fall ill
- Returning to your home country for treatment
Emergency NHS Treatment
In the UK, it is important to only use the Accident and Emergency department (A&E / ER / Casualty) of a hospital for the treatment of true life-threatening or limb-threatening conditions. All other illnesses and injuries are dealt with by your GP, Out of hours service or NHS Direct. If you are an overseas student you should take your passport, visa and College letter of acceptance with you when going to hospital.
The NHS choices website has further information about which services are available to access and when (above)
Should you need to call an ambulance in an emergency, the telephone number is 999 or 112, both can be used from any university or mobile phone.
NHS Dental Costs and Prescription Charges
NHS care and treatment are not entirely free, although children under 16 years old, or under 19 years old and in full-time education, are exempt from the following treatment charges:
- Dental care is heavily subsidised and all NHS dentists have to agree a price with you before beginning treatment. Prices currently start at around £18.50 for a check up/examination.
- NHS prescription charges are currently set at just over £8 for each item printed on the prescription, for example, any quantity of the same medication. This charge is paid to the Pharmacist when you go to the Chemist to collect your medication. You may be able to get help for prescription charges, please see the NHS choices website.
You are not required to register with a Dentist, but UK Dentists keep lists of regular patients to enable them to provide ongoing treatment and care both under the NHS and privately. The College therefore recommends that all students register with a Cambridge dentist, either at the University Dental Service or elsewhere. This reduces the likelihood of emergency dental work being required. Please bring with you to the UK any information on ongoing dental treatment, particularly if you have received Orthodontic work such as having a fixed brace/retainer, including copies or original X rays.
Further Information for International Students on health care within the UK:http://www.ukcisa.org.uk/International-Students/Study-work--more/Health-and-healthcare/