If you are in the UK studying a full-time course lasting six months or more you will be entitled to access healthcare from the National Health Service (NHS). Most NHS service are free (for example consultations with a Doctor and emergency treatment), however you will be required to pay prescription costs and costs for any non-urgent treatment or operations you may need.
Registering with a Doctor/General Practice (GP)
In order to access healthcare on the NHS you will need to register with a General Practice (GP) close to your home address upon arrival in the UK. You can find your local GP by entering your home postcode in the 'services near you' section of the NHS website.
Where you can register with a GP is dependent upon your home address in the UK. You are not able to register with a GP near the College unless you live in the local area.
When you register with a GP you will need to show the following documentation:
Student Certificate (this can be obtained from the Registry)
Passport and visa (if applicable)
Evidence of your address (i.e. utility bill/tenancy agreement)
The current prescription charge is £8.80 per item.
If you require repeat prescriptions you can apply for either a three-month or 12-month Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) which will save you money if you require more than four prescriptions in three months or 13 prescriptions over 12 months.
A three month PPC costs £29.10
A 12 month PPC costs £104.00
Further information on prescription costs and PPC's can be found on the NHS website.
Help with health Costs
You may be eligible to apply for help with the following health care costs:
- NHS prescriptions
- NHS dental treatment
- sight tests, glasses and contact lenses
- travel to receive NHS treatment
- NHS wigs and fabric supports
If you’d like to apply for help with any of the above costs you’ll need to complete an HC1 Form. You can print the form you can get one from the doctors surgeries, dentists or by calling the Health Costs help line on 0300 330 1343.
You’ll be asked to supply information about your income and expenditure and once you have submitted your HC1 form you’ll be assessed. If you’re eligible for a full exemption you’ll be sent an HC2 certificate. If you’re eligible for a partial exemption you’ll be sent an HC3 certificate which will outline what you’ll need to pay towards your health care costs.
If you need urgent medical assistance you should go directly to your nearest Accident and Emergency department. Accident and Emergency departments are located in some (not all) hospitals and are open 24 hours.
If you are not well enough to travel you should call 999 (this number is free, including from mobile phones) and ask for an ambulance.
Less severe injuries can be treated at an NHS Walk in Centre.
Even though students studying on a full-time course lasting six months or more are eligible for treatment on the NHS, it is still advisable to take out private medical insurance before coming to the UK. Waiting times for non-essential treatment on the NHS can be long, so private cover may help you access any treatment you need faster.
It is also advisable to ensure that this cover provides costs for repatriation if you need to be flown back to your home country.
Please note, private healthcare should be arranged in your home country prior to travelling to the UK.
Dependents of Tier 4 Students
Your spouse or children with you in the UK will also be entitled to NHS treatment. In order to be eligible for this however they must be here as your dependent on a Tier 4 student visa.
Many dental practices in the UK are private and do not accept NHS patients. If you register with a private practice you will be required to pay for the full cost of your dental treatment.
A list of dentists that do accept NHS patients can be found on the NHS website.
Please note that even if you register with an NHS practice and are eligible for treatment on the NHS you may still be required to make a contribution towards your treatment.
RCA Students can register with the Imperial College Dental Centre, which accepts NHS patients. Further information can be found on the Imperial College Dental Centre website.
Eye care in the UK is provided by opticians, which are found on most main High Streets in London. There is usually a charge for an eye test (around £20–25) and if you need glasses or contacts the costs of lenses and frames varies considerably.
Please note the above information is for guidance purposes only and should not be treated as a complete authoritative statement of law.