A GUIDE TO THE NHS FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
The National Health Service and how it works can seem very complicated if you have never had to use the system before.
In the first place you are only eligible to use the NHS if you are either :
• An EU student
• A non-EU student on a course lasting more than 6 months
• A non-EU student from a country with a reciprocal arrangement with the UK.
EU countries, and those with reciprocal arrangements (as at 3.08):
• Austria Armenia Azerbaijan Anguilla Australia
• Belgium Bulgaria Barbados Bosnia-Herzegovina British Virgin Islands
• Cyprus Czech Republic Channel Islands Croatia
• Finland France Falkland Islands
• Germany Greece Georgia Gibraltar
• 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 Ukraine
To access the National Health Service first you have to register with a Doctor. Doctors in the United Kingdom have catchment areas. Bailrigg Health centre covers the University Campus, and we can register you if you live in :
Lancaster, Caton, Ellel, Holgate, West Bank, Torrisholme, Slyne or Halton.
If you live outside our catchment area, we can give you advice as to where your nearest GP surgery will be.
When you go to register with a Doctor, 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, Dentist or Hospital.
It can sometimes take several months for your card to arrive.
WHAT DOES NHS REGISTRATION ENTITLE YOU TO?
• Free consultation with your Doctor (General Practitioner)
• Free hospital treatment in Accident and Emergency
• Free hospital treatment if your Doctor recommends it
• Free contraceptive services
• Free maternity care
WHAT WILL YOU NEED TO PAY FOR?
• Any medication the Doctor prescribes for you.
• Any dental treatment within the NHS scheme
• The cost of eye tests and glasses or contact lenses.
• Any forms or letters you may ask us to complete for you
• Some vaccinations
THE ROLE OF THE GENERAL PRACTITIONER
The General Practitioner (usually known as a GP) is a general Doctor who has specialised 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 varied 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).
THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE PRESCRIPTION
If you see a Doctor who wishes you to have medication he/she will usually give you an NHS prescription. You then take this to a pharmacy. The standard charge for dispensary drugs is currently £6.85 per item on your prescription. From time to time your Doctor may recommend buying drugs over the counter without a prescription. This is because they know that the particular drug recommended is cheaper this way. Under certain circumstances you may be able to claim free prescriptions.
If you are under 19, pregnant, or have certain medical conditions, you may automatically be eligible for free NHS treatment and prescriptions.Full details of who is entitled to this is available in a leaflet called “Are you entitled to help with NHS costs?” available from Pharmacies.
Overseas students are entitled to apply for assistance with NHS charges, but most overseas students will not meet the eligibility requirements for help. If you think you may be eligible, complete form HC1 which is available from Post Offices.
CAN I OBTAIN MORE OF MY PRESCRIBED MEDICATION IN THE UK?
We can prescribe some of the more common medications, such as asthma inhalers, acne treatment, anti-depressants and contraceptive tablets. You would need to make an appointment with the GP to arrange this.
To make things as easy as possible, remember to bring your existing medication or prescription with you to the appointment, and if possible any specialist letters, or results of recent tests.
Please bear in mind that you may be given slightly different medication from the one originally prescribed, as local protocols vary and some medications from abroad are not available in the UK.
In some cases you will need to be referred to a local specialist before your medication is prescribed. Sometimes it may be easier to get supplies of your medication posted from home. This is particularly true for some American medications for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) which are not the same in the UK.
WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE AN ACCIDENT OR REQUIRE EMERGENCY TREATMENT
Telephone the Doctor’s Surgery for advice, or go to the nearest Accident and Emergency Department. If you live on campus and need an ambulance, dial 999 and give details to the Security Officer. The nearest Accident and Emergency Department is at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary. It is located on the left hand side of the main road into Lancaster from the University just after the large roundabout.
WHAT DO I DO IF I GO ON HOLIDAY
If you are going on holiday in the UK you will be eligible for NHS treatment wherever you go. It is sensible to take your NHS card with you. If you need to see a Doctor while you are away go to any GP and register as a temporary resident.
Once you have received your NHS card you may be eligible for free treatment throughout the EU. You are entitled to any medical treatment which becomes necessary, free or at a reduced cost, when temporarily visiting an EU country or a country with a reciprocal health care agreement.
However, to obtain treatment you will need to have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you, which you can obtain, free of charge, after completing a form available from Post Offices.
Please note you are not eligible for a EHIC until you have an NHS card. If you go anywhere in Europe before you have received a card it is essential to take out private insurance.
If you are travelling outside the EU or to any country which is not covered by a reciprocal health care agreement, you must have private medical insurance. The NHS will not help with medical costs incurred outside Europe.
If you go skiing you must take out private insurance. An EHIC will not cover the cost of a mountain rescue. Most dangerous sports require private insurance.
WHEN YOU LEAVE THE UNITED KINGDOM
When your course finishes and you go home, it is important to hand in your NHS card at emigration at the airport.