In the UK universal state healthcare is provided by the National Health Service (NHS). The NHS provides everyday healthcare and emergency treatment, as well as subsidised dental and optical treatment.
Waiting times for NHS services can be long, so some people in the UK choose to take out private medical insurance, which allows them to use private hospitals.
If you are taking out private medical insurance, we advise finding a policy that gives you the option of seeking private rather than NHS care. Fast and effective treatment through a private provider might be more appropriate for an injury that could affect your career, such as physiotherapy for Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).
If you are a student from outside the UK and you need medical treatment, you can use the NHS subject to certain conditions, as detailed below. The NHS wesbite provides information on the services available. We advise all international students to read this information carefully for the most comprehensive and up-to-date information.
If you are under 25 years of age and coming to the UK for the first time you are advised to have yourself immunised against meningitis and mumps. Both meningococcal disease (meningitis) and mumps are serious diseases. Meningococcal meningitis can kill and mumps can damage fertility. Fortunately both are rare, but they do occur, and they occur more commonly amongst students. It is strongly recommended that you are immunised against these prior to coming to the RCM.
Health insurance for EU & EEA nationals
EU and EEA nationals can apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in their home country. EHIC holders are entitled to use the NHS free of charge.
If you are exercising a right of residence in the UK as a student, you are required by EU regulations to have comprehensive sickness insurance. Having an EHIC satisfies this requirement, but only if you do not intend to remain in the UK permanently.
Please note that the EHIC is not an alternative to private medical and travel insurance. For example, an EHIC will not cover you for repatriation costs in the event of a serious accident, lost or stolen property or any private (non-NHS) treatment. Therefore, we also recommend that you consider taking out an insurance policy for your time in the UK.
Information on how to obtain an EHIC in your home country is available on the European Commission’s website
What is covered by the EHIC?
Health insurance for students from outside the EU & EEA
In April 2015 the UK Government introduced an immigration health surcharge so that people coming to the UK for six months or more contribute to the running costs of the NHS. Paying the surcharge entitles you to use the NHS on the same basis as UK nationals. The charge for students on Tier 4 Student visas is £150 per 12 months, and is paid upfront when you apply for your visa for the full duration of the leave granted by that visa. If you are using a different type of visa to come to the UK, for example a spouse visa, the charge will be £200 per year.
Please note that the Immigration Health Surcharge is expected to increase in December 2018 to £300 per 12 months for students (£400 per 12 months for other visa categories).
Students who applied for their visas before the surcharge was introduced can continue to use the NHS without charge for the duration of their current course, but will be required to pay if they apply to extend their stay in the UK.
Please note that the immigration health surcharge will only cover you to use the NHS and not cover you for things like repatriation costs in the event of a serious accident, lost or stolen property, or any private (non-NHS) medical treatment. Therefore, we also recommend that you consider taking out an insurance policy to cover your time in the UK.
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Health insurance for students from outside the EU & EEA on short programmes
If you are coming to the UK for less than six months, for example on a short exchange or on the NAFA international placement, you do not have to pay the immigration health surcharge. However, you must ensure that you have an adequate level of health and travel insurance to cover your stay, as you will be charged if you need medical treatment.