Healthcare in the UK

Hi All! It’s been quite some time. This is part due to having the flu (the inspiration for this blog) and other part due to beginning my industry work placement (more on that in a later post).

This week’s post is all about healthcare in the UK – the system, how is is for international students, and how to utilize it.

Healthcare in the UK: An Overview

You may know by now but healthcare in the UK is remarkably different than that in the US. The healthcare system over here is called the National Health Service, or, “NHS” for short. Many people describe the NHS as “free healthcare.” While in comparison to the US healthcare system the NHS is extremely less expensive, there are some small expenses associated. The largest fee you will likely have to pay for healthcare in the UK is your NHS enrollment fee.

Enrolling in the NHS

As a Tier 4 visa holder, you are eligible for NHS services given that you have paid the enrollment fee. When applying for your visa, you will be prompted to pay to join the NHS. When I applied this cost roughly £250 however the fee is subject to change. This is an annual payment meaning that it must be repaid each year.

Healthcare at Surrey

The university benefits from its very own medical center located on campus near the Duke of Kent building. During international orientation, you will have the opportunity to register with the “GP” (“general practitioner” – this is how most people refer to doctors here). I highly recommend you take advantage of this opportunity! Once the school year begins, the medical center is packed with first years waiting in line to register. Sometimes the line is even outside the door! Registration is simple and just requires bringing your passport and filling out general information about your health.

Using the NHS

Now that you know how to register, let’s discuss actually using the NHS! Surrey’s medical centre is fully digitized with an up and running website that easily allows you to schedule appointments that fit in with your classes: You can always drop in to make an appointment on your way to class as well. As far as the actual process goes, appointments do not vary much from what you have would expect in the States. GPs are highly trained and if you are experiencing recurring symptoms, GPs can refer you to other specialists. GPs may prescribe you prescriptions that you can pick up at any local pharmacy. The majority of prescriptions are free but those that are not only cost a small fee.

GPs should be used for all general medical issues, however, if you are experiencing a medical emergency, Royal Surrey County Hospital is just a short drive from campus. The emergency room equivalent in the UK is called “A&E” – standing for “accidents and emergency.” A&E should only be used in absolute emergencies and the medical emergency number is 999.

Centre for Wellbeing

Health isn’t just about your physical well being – it includes your mental health and life balance too. Right next to the university’s medical centre is the Centre for Wellbeing. The Centre for Wellbeing’s purpose is to support and assist students dealing with personal issues. Utilizing the Centre for Wellbeing is completely free and aside from helping students experiencing difficulties, they also tend to host a number of mindfulness and meditation classes for all students looking to de-stress.

I hope this post was able to answer your questions about healthcare in the UK. If there is anything this post did not answer, please send us an e-mail at

Until next time!