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Frequently asked questions

Answers to popular questions about health care for students at UWE Bristol.

General health care questions

Do I need to register with a GP?

We strongly recommend that you register with a local GP within the first couple of weeks of arriving at university, even if you do not feel ill. This is to make it easier to see a doctor when you need to, as GPs are often unable to give appointments to people not registered at their surgery, except in a real emergency.

How do I register with a GP?

We have our own Health Centre on Frenchay Campus, which is also linked with The Old School Surgery in Fishponds. Once you have registered at one of these, you will be able to visit either surgery. To register, you will be asked to complete a short online application form, or you can go in and speak to one of the receptionists. There is more information about registering with the University Health Centre or The Old School Surgery on our web pages. Find out how to book an appointment, or simply get in touch if you have questions.

If you would like to register with another local practice, you should find your nearest GP surgery and ask to register with them. You will usually be asked to complete a short application form or health questionnaire, and you may be asked to provide proof of identity.

What happens when I go home for the holidays?

When you register with the University Health Centre or another local GP, you will be removed from your current doctor's practice list and all your records will be transferred to your new GP. You will need to register with your previous doctor as a temporary patient if you want to consult them sometimes, such as during holidays when you return home.

What care will the NHS not provide?

The NHS will generally not fund:

  • Treatments for which there is no scientific evidence of benefit
  • Cosmetic procedures
  • Treatments for mild conditions which will resolve on their own
  • Interventions which do more harm than good.

How can I find other local NHS services?

You can use the NHS website search function to find your nearest doctor’s surgery, optician, dentist or pharmacy.

EU/EEA and international students

Will my family be entitled to NHS treatment if they join me in the UK?

If your course of study is for six months or more, your spouse or children with you in the UK will also be entitled to NHS treatment from the beginning of your stay.

To receive free hospital treatment, your family members must be in the UK as your dependants and not, for example, as visitors. “Family” in this case means your husband or wife and your children up to the age of 16 (or up to the age of 19 if they are in full-time education).

Will I get the same care in the UK as I get in my home country?

The NHS runs a universal healthcare system for free if you need it, which is funded by taxation. There is, therefore, a limit to the resources available and what the NHS has decided is reasonable to pay for.

There are no top-up payment systems generally available to buy additional care. So if you want the exact same services that you receive in your home country, you may have to pay for some of them here. The NHS will, however, provide you with all immediate and necessary care when you need it.

Can I see a specialist without seeing my GP?

The role of GPs is particularly strong in the UK NHS. It is almost impossible to see a specialist without going through your GP, who will always be your first point of contact for your health needs. They will refer you if they think it is necessary.

Can I get screening tests and investigations in the UK?

Although you can usually get the same tests in the UK as in your home country, these are often guided by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) or by scientific evidence. Therefore, guidelines and the frequency of the test or the specific tests available may vary considerably.

Does my GP make more money by not referring or investigating me?

In the UK, GPs are largely paid by the number of patients registered with them. In some other countries GPs may tend to be rewarded for doing more things for patients, which may not always be a good thing as it can encourage unnecessary investigation and treatment.

UK GPs do get additional payments for providing high-quality care for certain chronic diseases. If your GP does not have a high-referral pattern, any savings made are retained by the local health service to invest in additional services for patients.

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