Diseases and Health matters are not to be taken lightly as health is wealth. The UK is a healthy place to live and the health care system is quite robust. However, as an international student you must understand how the UK Health care system works. It has a nationally funded Service – called the NHS
1) National Health Service(NHS)
All international students and their dependents studying on a course of more than six months are entitled to a free health care in the UK.
The NHS is the shared name of three of the four publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom. The systems are primarily funded through general taxation rather than requiring insurance payments, and were founded in 1948. They provide a comprehensive range of health services, the vast majority of which are free at the point of use to residents of the United Kingdom.
All international students and their dependents studying on a course of less than 6 months are not entitled to a free health care except in the case of an emergency. However, students from countries that have a reciprocal health care agreement with the UK are entitled to free health care irrespective of the length of their studies.
Countries with reciprocal arrangements/ EU countries are: Austria, Armenia, Azerbaijan , Anguilla, Australia, Belgium Bulgaria Barbados, Bosnia-Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Channel Islands Croatia, Denmark , Estonia, Finland, France, Falkland Islands, Germany, Greece, Georgia, Gibraltar, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Iceland, Isle of Man, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg , Liechtenstsein, Malta, Moldova, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic , Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Serbia, St Helena, Tajikstan, Turkmenistan, Turks & Caicos Islands, Uzbekistan , and Ukraine
If your course is less than six months and you are an international student from a non-EEA country, and your country does not participate in the reciprocal health agreement, it is advisable to have adequate health insurance for the duration of your stay as a student because private health treatment can be very very expensive.
2) You must Register with a Doctor( GP)
To access the National Health Service first you have to register with a Doctor also known as a General practitioner (GP) when you arrive. Usually you would be told at the UK Border once you are granted leave to enter the Country. Registering with a doctor is pretty straight forward and not difficult. You can find the GP practice nearest to you by using the NHS Choices website or you can visit www.nhs.uk
When you go to register with a GP it is a good idea to take your student id card along with proof of where you live. You will be asked to fill in some forms. Once your have registered with a Doctor you will be sent an NHS card. This is your proof that you are registered for NHS treatment. Keep your card in a safe place and take it with you if you visit your Doctor( GP). It can sometimes take several months for your card to arrive.
3) Who is a Qualified General Practitioner
The General Practitioner is a general Doctor who has specialized in family health. He or she is therefore qualified to see anyone from small babies to the elderly. They are used to seeing patients with different health problems including skin disorders, gynaecological problems and contraception. Whatever health problem you have, the GP is usually the first Doctor you consult. If you have a complicated problem or an illness that requires specialist advice, the GP will refer you to the appropriate Doctor or specialist. To get an appointment with a specialist can take many weeks. You may be able to be seen more quickly if you pay for private treatment (which can be expensive).
4) Your GP entitlements as an International Student
As an international student registered with a GP you are entitled to Free consultation with your Doctor (General Practitioner) and Free hospital treatment in the event of an Accident and Emergency. You are also entitled to Free contraceptive services and free maternity care. You may also be entitled to Free hospital treatment if your Doctor recommends it.
Note that as an international student you will have to pay for any medication the Doctor prescribes for you. Alternatively, you may take your prescriptions to Pharmacy and buy the drugs from them.
5) Meningitis C and tetanus immunisation is Important
The meningitis C vaccine has been offered in the UK to everyone under 18 years old since 1999. Currently all students receive the meningitis C vaccinations before the beginning of the academic year. You should be able to get the vaccination free of charge at the university.
Any student entering higher education for the first time should have been vaccinated against meningitis C, ideally before coming to the University. This applies to all freshers, regardless of age. If you have not already been immunised before arrival, this can be done by your college doctor at the Students Medical Registration Centre.
In the UK all young people are offered a BCG at aged approx. 14, and diptheria, tetanus and polio booster at aged 16. These are usually given at school. It is a good idea to check that you have also had these immunisations before coming to the UK.
For more information on vaccines and immunisation schedules check out the NHS immunisation website.
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