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Healthcare for international students

Help and advice on healthcare for international students at UWE Bristol.

How do I access healthcare in the UK?

If you are applying for a visa to stay in the UK for more than six months you must pay an Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your visa application.

This will allow you to use the National Health Service (NHS) services in the UK when you arrive. However you will still need to pay for certain treatments, including prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests.

If you are studying for less than six months, it's important to buy personal medical insurance (unless you come from another EU/EEA country or a country with a reciprocal health agreement).

If you are an EU/EAA student, you should:

  • contact your country's health authorities to complete Form E128 before you enter the UK,
  • or bring your European health insurance card to the UK.

To access healthcare, first register with a doctors' surgery. This is sometimes called a GP surgery, a Practice or a Health Centre.

How do I register with a GP surgery, a Practice or a Health Centre?

It is free to register with a GP surgery, Practice or a Health Centre.

If you live on Frenchay Campus, or close to Fishponds, register with the UWE Bristol Health Centre. This will allow you to access healthcare at two surgeries:

If you live further away, you can find your nearest doctors' surgery on the NHS website. In the 'Services Near You' section, select the 'GPs' tab and then enter your postcode. This will give you a list of local surgeries where you can register. You can register by visiting the surgery in person or by phone.

You can also use the NHS website to find your nearest optician or dentist

Where do I go if I need healthcare?

Doctor's surgeries
If you need healthcare, always go to the doctor's surgery first. They can refer you to a specialist provider if necessary.

Walk-in centres
Bristol has a number of walk-in centres where you can get urgent medical advice (which is not life threatening). These are listed on the NHS walk-in centre website.

What do I do if there is an emergency?

In urgent emergencies, dial 999. This is the number to call for all the emergency services – fire, police and medical emergencies. An experienced person will answer your call and ask which service you require. If necessary, they will arrange an ambulance to take you to hospital.

Where do I get medicines for minor illnesses?

For very minor illnesses such as headaches, coughs and colds, visit a pharmacy. They can also provide medical advice for minor illnesses.

Is there a helpline I can call for advice?

Dial 111 for the NHS helpline. They can help you if:

  • you need medical help fast but it's not a 999 emergency
  • you think you need to go to Accident and Emergency or need another urgent care service
  • you don't know who to call
  • you don't have a GP to call
  • you need health information or reassurance about what to do next.


  • Register with a GP surgery as soon as possible. You never know when you may need it.
  • For urgent medical attention dial 999.

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