Health and Medical Care
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) provides doctors and hospital treatment. If you are an EU or International student and your course is over 6 months long, you are entitled to access healthcare through the NHS as detailed below.
You must register with a local doctor, who you will see when you are ill, prescribe medicines and refer you to see a hospital consultant if necessary. You may need to pay for dental and optical treatment as well as medicine prescribed by the doctor and collected from a pharmacy.
Registering with a doctor
All full-time students are required to register with a local doctor. The University medical advisors are The Swan Practice, in Buckingham. They hold daily appointments in Student Welfare during term time. You will have the opportunity to sign on with our University doctor during registration day. Late arrivals may obtain forms from Student Welfare or from the North End Surgery.
Prescriptions for medicines are taken into a pharmacy (or chemist) who will then provide you with the medicine or treatment. Under the NHS you will, in many cases, have to pay a small sum for medication. Students can apply for a reduction in fees using NHS form HC1, available from your doctor.
Registering with a dentist
At least once a year you should have your teeth checked by a dentist. Some dentists, including two in Buckingham, accept NHS patients, but others only treat private patients. You will need to pay for dental treatment.
Opticians test your eyes and prescribe glasses or contact lenses. There are a number of opticians in Buckingham where you can get your eyes tested. There is a charge for eye tests and the cost of glasses and lenses varies.
Most visitors from EU countries have some entitlements to use the NHS. The precise entitlement varies according to your status (e.g. a worker, a pensioner, spouse, child or casual visitor). The Family Health Service Association (FHSA) will regard you as being entitled to NHS treatment, unless you are thought to have come to this country specifically to try to obtain free treatment. This treatment will only be free when it is deemed urgent.
Patients from EU countries who have come to this country specifically for treatment should have written approval from their insurance institution to obtain their treatment here and should be able to produce their European health Insurance Card (EHIC). Normally you should have made prior arrangements for the treatment. GPs should make EU patients aware of their entitlements.
The arrangements for EU members are subject to constant change by the Department of Health so please check the latest information available. This is also likely to change post-Brexit.
Students from outside EEA
You are eligible to medical care from the NHS if you are a student intending to study continuously for a minimum of six months, proving continuity and being “settled” here. You will be required to pay an immigration health surcharge as part of your Tier 4 student visa application.
You must be registered with a General Practitioner to be eligible for NHS treatment. These regulations also apply to any members of your family accompanying you who must also show that they have a purpose for residing in this country for a minimum of six months, such as continuous study or employment. If a member of family who comes to England does not register with a General Practitioner and has not been resident for six months, he or she is not entitled to free health care.
For registered patients there is always a fee for prescriptions. That fee is laid down by the Department of Health and is subject to change, usually annually. Contraception is free.
The exception to all of the above is ante-natal care. This is at the discretion of the hospital attended. If you are pregnant on arrival in this country, ante-natal care usually entails a fee.
If you, or a member of his or her family, come to England specifically to obtain treatment, you will be charged as private patients. You are advised to enquire at the hospital about your detailed entitlements and liabilities. Please make sure that you fully understand them.
With countries where the UK has a reciprocal agreement, NHS treatment will be provided where the need for treatment arises during the visit and it would be unreasonable to delay treatment until your intended return home. NHS treatment will not be delivered unless the treatment is deemed urgent.
For further information about keeping healthy, see UKCISA healthcare guidance.