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Frequently asked questions

What does NHS mean?

The National Health Service (NHS) is a free healthcare service to anyone who is eligible. It is funded by a proportion of our taxes. Free care includes hospital treatment, consultation with a doctor/General Practitioner (GP), contraceptive services and community health services. You must pay part of the fees for dental services. Optical services are not available on the NHS.

What is a General Practitioner?

This is a family doctor who has general medical experience. They understand a wide range of health conditions and the health requirements of people of all ages. If your GP is unable to help you, he or she will refer you to the appropriate specialist, usually based in a hospital. Medical centres also have healthcare assistants, nurses and receptionists, all of whom may be involved in your care. If you feel too unwell to visit your GP, call them for advice.

If you cannot reach them, call 111 (a 24-hour telephone helpline run by the NHS)

Who is eligible to receive NHS treatment?

Any student, regardless of nationality or country of origin, enrolled on an academic course lasting six months or more is entitled to receive free NHS care.

What if I am here for less than six months?

Your rights to free medical treatment will be limited. You would receive free treatment in case of emergency (eg a car accident). We therefore strongly recommend you arrange adequate health insurance before you come to the UK.

Student health services at the University of Westminster are free, but you will be asked to pay for any prescriptions, including the contraceptive pill, and for any tests you may require, other than in an emergency.

Some countries have reciprocal healthcare agreements with the UK. These countries include the European Economic Area (EEA) Countries (EU counties, plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) and some Commonwealth nations. For a list of countries with reciprocal healthcare agreements, visit the Department of Health website. If you are from one of these countries, you will be entitled to free NHS treatment, even if you’re studying for less than six months.

How do I register with a GP?

You should register with a GP in the area that you live - visit the NHS website to find your local GP. Local pharmacies and libraries also have information about GPs in your area. Call the medical centre first to confirm that you are within their catchment area and eligible to register. You may be asked to provide identification, such as your passport, and proof of address. If you experience problems registering with a GP, please contact Student Health Services for help.

Am I entitled to free dental treatment?

You may be able to claim for help with dental treatment costs. Application forms are available from the Student Health Services reception, your local post office or medical centre. For further information visit the NHS website or read leaflet HC11 to learn more about your entitlements. We have a list of local NHS dentists in the University of Westminster catchment areas.

What about eye tests and glasses?

You do need to pay for these, but, as above, you may be able to claim for help with costs. Complete form HC1 to claim for costs or form HC5 for refunds. These forms are available from the Student Health Services reception, your local post office or medical centre. Visit the NHS website for more information about help with health costs.

What if I cannot find a GP?

GPs are only allowed to register a limited number of patients. This number fluctuates from month to month and you may be able to ask again after a few weeks. 

Please contact Student Health Services for help if you are unable to find a GP.