Living in the UK
This page will help you understand the healthcare available on the NHS and how to access it.
The NHS website gives information about the healthcare in the UK.
You can also find out more about the UK health care system on the UKCISA website
Who is entitled to free healthcare?
In England, some healthcare services provided by the National Health Service (NHS) are free of charge to everyone and some are free only to UK residents and certain overseas visitors.
The following NHS services are free for everyone:
- Consultations and treatment provided by a GP and other ‘primary care’ services
- Emergency treatment (but not follow up treatment)
- Family planning services
- Diagnosis and treatment of certain communicable diseases
- Compulsory psychiatric treatment
For ‘secondary’ health care services, such as treatment in hospital, treatment is free to people who are ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK, i.e. living lawfully in the UK without a time-limit on their stay. Otherwise, treatment is free if:
- you paid the immigration health surcharge (IHS) for your current immigration permission;
- you applied for your current immigration permission before the immigration health surcharge was introduced on 6 April 2015;
- Certain EEA and Swiss Nationals who arrived in the UK by 31 December 2020; (see * below)
- you are a resident of the Republic of Ireland or a national of one of the countries with a reciprocal health care agreement with the UK, or
- you have been granted or have made an application for asylum, humanitarian protection or temporary protection in the UK.
A baby born in the UK to a parent who has paid the IHS or obtained their leave before the IHS was introduced is eligible for free NHS treatment up to the age of 3 months.
*You should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before coming to the UK. This card entitles the holder to full NHS treatment on the same basis as UK residents. You should apply for this in your own country. These arrangements will continue until the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. If you are staying beyond 31 December 2020 you should apply for immigration permission after arriving in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme; you should apply even if you are not planning to settle in the UK permanently. If you obtain ‘pre-settled’ or ‘settled’ status under the scheme you can remain in the UK beyond the Brexit transition period and you can continue to use the NHS for free. EEA / Swiss nationals arriving on or after 1 January 2021 would pay the IHS as part of their immigration application.
If you come to the UK on a visa for up to 6 months, you are not required or able to pay the IHS. It is advisable to obtain travel insurance with medical cover before arrival in the UK.
Registering with a GP
You should register with a GP as soon as you arrive in the UK.
Most students based in Loughborough will register at the Medical Centre on campus.
You can also find your local GP using the NHS website.
Unless you have an emergency condition, the GP is the person who will be able to help you to access other services within the NHS if needed. For example, you cannot see a Hospital Consultant without a referral from the GP (unless you have an emergency that means you have to go to the Accident and Emergency Department).
Registering with a Dentist
Some dentists work for the NHS but there may still be a charge for their services. To find an NHS dentist, you can search here.
Urgent Care and Emergency Treatment
NHS 111 can help if you have an urgent medical problem and you’re not sure what to do.
To get help from NHS 111, you can:
- go to 111.nhs.uk
- call 111
NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you have a minor burn, bad cut, suspected fracture or sprain, you can visit the Urgent Care Centre at Loughborough Hospital.
The nearest Accident and Emergency Department is in Leicester at the Royal Infirmary.
If you are unable to get there quickly, or the emergency is life threatening then call 999 for an ambulance.
A medical insurance policy may cover, for example:
- Hospital treatment and accommodation
- Dental treatment in an emergency or following an accident
- any lost fees if you cannot complete your course
- the cost of returning home for treatment or if a relative is ill
- the cost of a relative visiting you if you fall ill
Even if you are entitled to free NHS treatment in the UK, you can take out private medical insurance if you wish. You may sometimes have to wait for NHS treatment. An insurance policy which gives you access to private medical care could give you quicker access to treatment with less impact on your studies.
If you already have medical insurance overseas, check whether you can extend it to cover your stay in the UK.