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Health and support services in the UK

Here’s a lowdown on the support services available for you!

It can be a little challenging to cope with the changes in your environment when you move to the UK for the first time. With a new set of customs and norms, adjusting into the culture takes a little time, and you may need some assistance to absorb it all smoothly. Don’t worry if you struggle to adjust, or feel alienated or unhealthy, there are a range of support services available to help you out. 

In case you get hassled at any point, you can reach out to:

Pre-arrival support guide 

Many institutions offer a pre-arrival support guide that includes details of medical insurance available, accommodation options, strategies to budget living expenses and other necessary details to settle in.

Campus support services

Dedicated to support international students via various orientations and programs. These may include supportive and educational workshops, cultural celebrations and academic support. Sometimes, they also help with student accommodation and employment/internship opportunities. 

Student associations on campus

Most universities and colleges have their own student associations, which help international students manage their various activities along with academics. Some universities also have a dedicated international student association to offer unbiased support to students from another country. 

For instance, the Oxford University has a Newcomers’ Club that offers a common platform to all newly arrived students to meet, interact and even explore the city together. 

Student associations off campus 

Various student associations outside of campus work for the welfare of national and international students. For instance, the National Union of Students in the UK is a national representative body that works for student rights and represents over seven million students in the country.

Support for students with disabilities

Most universities and institutions offer special support to international students with disabilities, but it is best to communicate the same at the time of application to discuss if any special arrangements need to be made for you.

Make sure you have a health insurance

As an international student enrolled in a program for over six months in the UK, you qualify for free medical treatment under the UK's National Health Service (NHS). To receive discounts, you’ll have to meet certain conditions and pay an additional International Health Surcharge as part of your visa application. You can find more information on the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website. Discuss this with your IDP counsellor for more details.

We recommend you get registered with a local doctor or a medical centre located in your campus when you arrive in the country.

Familiarise yourself with the National Health Service (NHS)

To use the National Health Service, you’ll need to first register with a general practitioner (commonly known as GPs), in your area to get a NHS card. Once your registration is complete, you are entitled to a free consultation with your GP as well as free hospital treatment if recommended. In case of any specific medical issues, your GP will further refer you to a suitable specialist.

In an emergency

If you happen to face any emergency, call the toll-free number 999 or 112. This is a common number that can be used for fire, police or ambulance. 

Some British hospitals also have an Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department:

  • These departments operate 24*7 for any emergency treatment concerning serious illness or injury
  • There are no fees if you avail any of their services, provided, you’re not already an in-patient and do not access follow-up treatment
  • you need not pay any immigration health surcharge to them

A great way to come prepared to face various challenges of settling into a new country is by attending one of our pre-departure sessions  where we prepare you for your life in the UK before you leave. These sessions are free to attend. Just walk into any of your nearest IDP offices to know more.   

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Updated on June 24, 2020

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