The National Health Service
The National Health Service (NHS) is the world's largest publicly funded health service. The NHS provides health treatment for UK residents, some of which is free and some of which may incur a charge.
Overseas students on full-time courses lasting 6 months or longer are usually eligible for NHS treatment. The 'Keeping healthy factsheet' by UKCISA (the UK Council for International Student Affairs) and the NHS website are good places for overseas students to find information about UK health services and eligibility for NHS care.
Even if you are eligible for NHS treatment you may have to pay for prescription medicines. Your doctor or local pharmacist can advise you.
European Economic Area (EEA) nationals
The UK Council for International Student Affairs advises that..."all non-UK European Economic Area (EEA) nationals and their family should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before coming to the UK. This card entitles the holder and their family to full NHS treatment on the same basis as the student categories described above."
Visit the European Commission's website for more information on the EHIC.
Registering with a doctor
Doctor's offices in the UK are often known as 'surgeries' or 'health centres'. As soon as you arrive in London, you should register with a local doctor, known as a General Practitioner (GP). Do not wait until you are unwell.
You can find your nearest GP by using the GP finder on the NHS website.
You may be asked to provide proof that you are a student when registering with a GP.
Check with your local surgery for opening hours and information on making appointments. After you register, you will receive a personal NHS number which you should keep safe in case you need to present it when you visit your doctor or dentist.
Emergency and urgent care services
In an emergency you should dial 999 to call the ambulance, police, fire or coast guard services. This is a free call. A 999 call should only be made in a genuine emergency.
You can also visit the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your local hospital. Less severe injuries can be treated in minor injuries services and NHS walk-in centres, which treat patients without an appointment.
Find your nearest A&E
Find your nearest NHS walk-in centre
Medical advice at pharmacies
As well as dispensing medicines, pharmacies can offer advice on common health problems and help to answer routine questions about the medicines you are taking. You do not need an appointment to speak to a pharmacist. Just visit any pharmacy and ask if a pharmacist is available. Some pharmacies have separate consultation areas for your privacy.
NHS dentists provide dental treatment that is clinically necessary to keep your mouth, teeth and gums healthy. Not all dental surgeries accept NHS patients, so visit the NHS website to find lists of NHS dentists.
Even as an NHS patient, you may need to make a contribution towards the cost of your dental treatment. If you are not covered by the NHS or the dentist does not take NHS patients, you will need to pay for the full cost of your treatment.
Sardinia House Dental Practice is an independent dental practice which offers preferential rates to LSE staff and students. They are located on the 4th floor of Sardinia House and can be contacted on 020 795 57444.
The NHS website offers an overview of NHS eye care services and allows you to search for services near you. UKCISA also offers advice to international students regarding optical treatment. Many opticians operate from high street shops and there is normally a charge for an eye test on the NHS.
Inoculations and vaccinations
If you are required to have any vaccinations, including meningitis, or evidence of a recent check-up or chest x-ray, you should arrange to have these when applying for your visa.
Public Health England have advised that new university students obtain the Men ACWY vaccine before arrival. This also applies to overseas and mature students (up to the age of 25). You are advised to contact your doctor to arrange to have the vaccination if you have not done so previously. More information can be found here.
Students with children
LSE's Advice for pregnant students or those with children offers information about early medical support and much more.
Private health insurance
You may decide to take out private health insurance during your stay in the UK. There are many companies who provide a range of private services. LSE is unable to make recommendations about the best private health insurance provider for your needs.
Please note that LSE is not responsible for the content of external websites or the services provided by external organisations.