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Healthcare services: GP support

It is essential that you are registered with a GP during your studies. Unless there is a specific reason not to do so, we strongly recommend that you register with a GP local to your term time address. Your GP is your first point of contact if you need medical attention unless emergency support is required.

In case of emergency, attend your nearest accident and emergency service (A&E) or dial 999.


  • A General Practitioner (GP) is your main point of contact for general healthcare in the UK. They are trained in all aspects of general medicine and provide advice, assessment, diagnosis, management and treatment of a variety of physical and mental health conditions and illnesses. Some GPs may also offer other services including contraceptive services, minor surgical procedures, vaccinations and immunizations. 
  • They also provide referral to specialist care where appropriate, to ensure you receive the best possible care, support and treatment. If required, GPs can also provide referral to and liaison with specialist care services and can provide letters for medical evidence purposes or sick notes if time off study or work are required. If you are not registered with a NHS GP, you will not be able to access the full range of free NHS services.
  • Find out more about the support provided by GPs and their teams.


  • All UK residents or international students coming here to study on a full-time course for at least six months can register with a GP for free. If you do not fall into this category, it is essential that you take out health insurance before travelling to the UK.
  • Check to see if you are entitled to NHS care.


  • You can find GP practices in your local area on the NHS website. Some GP practices offer more services than others and may have different areas of expertise; check their websites to learn more, look at reviews and identify the one that best meets your needs. GP websites will usually indicate if they are currently taking new patients and will provide information about how to register. If this is not clear, please email or call them.
  • Enter your post code in the NHS Find a GP search tool.
  • You should register with a GP as soon as possible. Once you are registered, if you have ongoing physical or mental health needs it is important that you book an appointment as soon as possible, even if you are currently well. This will allow you to develop a relationship, help them learn about your needs and help you get the support and treatment you need now or in the future, to enable you to manage your condition and stay well. It is advisable to request a summary or transition letter from your current doctor or specialist which can be provided to your new GP, to help with this process. 


  • You will usually need to book GP appointment in advance although most practices will reserve a small number of urgent appointments that can be offered at short notice, depending on the circumstances. Waiting times for appointments can vary but may be up to several weeks so, it is important to think ahead and act quickly if you are concerned about your health or require a prescription, to avoid delays.
  • More information about how to book an appointment will be available on your GP's website.
  • See the NHS guidance on how to prepare for your appointment and what to ask your GP.
  • Please note: Repeat prescriptions for some medications can be requested online, however, for others you will need to see your GP. To avoid disruption to your treatment which can seriously affect your health, it is important to keep track of your medication, make a note of the date this will run out and book a GP appointment significantly in advance. If you are given a prescription for medication, this can be sent by your GP or you can take this to a pharmacy who will dispense the medication. Medications can usually be dispensed on the same day, but there can sometimes be delays.
  • Read about what to do if you run out of medication and need this urgently.


  • Appointments with NHS GPs are free, however, you will usually be required to contribute towards the cost of prescribed medications and consultations with dentists and opticians. You may be able to claim exemption including free prescriptions based on your age, income or medical condition.
  • Check to see if you are eligible for support with NHS costs and learn how to apply.
  • If you are prescribed medication, you will be charged for each item on the prescription. Some medications or equivalents are available over the counter, which means you can buy them without a prescription and sometimes these will be cheaper. Ask your GP or pharmacist if the medication prescribed for you is available over the counter.
  • Find your nearest pharmacy.
  • Out of hours pharmacy services are offered by Boots (nationwide) and Zafash (London only).

International students can find more information about the UK healthcare system on the UKCISA website.