Most healthcare in the UK is provided by the National Health Service (NHS). This service provides emergency, routine and occasional medical treatment to people within the UK. All medical treatment within the UK will be treated in the strictest medical confidence and will not be told to anyone without your consent.

In an emergency, telephone 999 for free from any UK telephone or mobile, and ask for the ambulance service. If you are unsure, call 111 and they will be able to advise you.

All students (regardless of immigration status) are able to access emergency treatment in a hospital Accident & Emergency (A&E) department. This is only for emergency treatment for serious illness or injury.

If you are in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of your application. This entitles you to access the NHS within the UK. Most services are free to access, although some carry charges. You will be made aware if you will be charged to access a service.

Students on a short course of 3 months or more can now register with a GP surgery to receive primary care services. If, however, you need a referral to a hospital specialist then you will be charged for this appointment by the hospital.

Currently, EU/EEA students would be exempt from being charge if carrying a EHIC as will some other countries who have reciprocal arrangements.  For the latest updates and how Brexit will affect your access to medical care in the UK, UKCISA will provide the most up to date information.

We recommend all other students have adquate medical insurance to cover specialist appointments whilst in the UK. 

If the doctor accepts you as a patient you will be sent a medical card through the post with your NHS number. However, being registered with a GP (doctor), and having an NHS number, does not give you automatic entitlement to free hospital treatment. The hospital providing treatment is responsible for establishing whether international students are entitled to free hospital treatment.

Your first point of contact for medical treatment in the UK is through a General Practitioner (GP) or health centre. Most illnesses and other problems can be treated by the GP, but if a specialist is needed then the GP will refer you to an appropriate hospital department. GP appointments are free, but there is likely to be a charge for any medication you need.

Accident & Emergency departments are open 24 hours a day in some hospitals to provide emergency medical assistance to anyone within the UK.

Exeter-based students: You should register with the Student Health Centre online before you get here. Additional information on the services can be found on the Health Centre homepage.

Cornwall-based students: The Penryn Surgery is available in the Tremough House Annexe, Penryn Campus, five days a week during term time. You can register with the Penryn Surgery during ‘Move-in’ weekend in The Compass (Exchange Building), or email to request a registration form. 

If you will be living in Falmouth, Truro or the surrounding areas, The Compass team will have details about other local doctor surgeries.

All students: If you will be registering with a doctor please ensure that you bring the following information for yourself and your family, if they are coming with you:

  • Details of any past illnesses requiring medical treatment
  • A full record of past immunizations

If you are currently taking medicines please make sure you bring adequate medication to cover the first few weeks at University. Take your medicines or the empty containers to the Health Centre when you have your first doctor’s appointment. Be aware that not all medicines you have access to at home may be available within the UK.

If you have had a serious illness, if you are currently undergoing medical treatment or hospital investigation, or if you are currently taking medication, then a brief doctor’s letter in English, summarizing your medical history, will help the Health Centre to provide you with uninterrupted health care. Please do not send this in advance of your arrival but bring it with you when you register at the Health Centre.

If you have further questions, first try the UKCISA pages, or contact us.