Healthcare in the UK for international students

Treatment that is free for everyone
  • Accident and emergency services (but not follow-up treatment, or admission as an in-patient to hospital)
  • Family planning services
  • Diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections
  • Diagnosis and treatment of certain infectious diseases 
  • Treatment of conditions caused by torture, female genital mutilation, domestic violence or sexual violence
  • Compulsory psychiatric treatment or treatment that has been ordered by a court 
  • Treatment in prison or immigration detention
Groups who do not pay hospital fees
  • If you have paid the immigration health surcharge as part of your visa application (more than 6-months).
  • You have a right to hospital treatment free of charge because of European law. You need to obtain your EHIC before you come to the UK. If you have not, you may be charged for treatment. 
  • You are a national of one of the countries that has a reciprocal health care agreement with the UK: Anguilla, Australia, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Montserrat, New Zealand, Serbia, St Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands (Individual agreements apply)
Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
  • You will have paid the IHS of £300 for each year of study, if you are studying for more than 6 months. 
  • However if you are on a course lasting less than 6 months, you will need private insurance to cover the cost of healthcare. 
  • The IHS gives you access to the NHS on the same terms as a permanent UK resident. It covers the full range of treatment offered by the NHS, including pre-existing and chronic conditions and pregnancy.
  • The NHS will assist you in the case of a medical emergency.
  • Just like UK citizens you may have to pay for some dental treatment and for medication prescribed by a doctor.
Doctor / General Practitioner (GP)
  • General Practitioners (GPs) are for health problems that are not life threatening. They are trained generalist doctors.
  • Aston University’s nearest NHS GP is Halcyon Medical Centre, lower ground floor of ‘Boots’, opposite Marks & Spencer's.
  • Halcyon provide a service 7 days of the week.
  • You can also register at a GP’s practice close to where you live. 
  • To use Halcyon, or any other doctor’s practice, you must be registered with them.
  • Don’t wait until you feel ill to register!

What to do when your GP is closed:

  • In the UK, GPs (doctors) have to provide you with healthcare even when they have closed for the night.
  • Between 6.30 pm and 8 am, if you telephone your doctor, your call will normally be diverted to an ‘out of hours’ service. 
  • If you are asked to see Badger, they mean the out of hours service! 
NHS Walk In Centres
  • Fast easy access to a range of NHS services, including health information, advice and treatment.  
  • For people who are not registered or who are having difficulty contacting their own GP. No appointment needed. Just walk in.
  • Experienced NHS nurses are on hand to treat minor illnesses, such as coughs, colds, and infections, as well as minor injuries like strains, sprains and cuts. 
  • Nearest one is next to Halcyon on the lower ground floor of Boots High St. Open every day during the day time.
Emergency numbers 999 or 111 or 2222

On campus

  • Phone or visit Aston Security for help in an emergency. 
  • They will contact the emergency services for you and meet the ambulance as it arrives on campus.
  • External line: 0121 359 2922 Internal line: 2222 

Off campus

  • Phone 999 for a medical emergency such as a life threatening accident.

Less than urgent medical assistance

  • Phone 111 if you need medical help fast but it's not an emergency 
  • Phone your GP’s surgery.


Accident and Emergency (A & E) – Casualty

Only call 999 or go to A&E in a genuine life-threatening emergency, such as:

  • loss of consciousness
  • acute confused state and fits that are not stopping
  • persistent, severe chest pain
  • breathing difficulties
  • severe bleeding that cannot be stopped

For illnesses that are not life-threatening you should first contact your GP surgery.

Remember, phone or visit Aston Security for help in an emergency. 

  • If your GP refers you to hospital for treatment, you will usually be given an appointment to see a consultant (specialist doctor). 
  • Depending on the medical problem, you may be treated as an in-patient (where you are admitted to a ward and stay there overnight or longer) or as an out-patient (where you visit the hospital for an appointment).
  • If you think you need to see a specialist, you should approach your GP first and ask them to refer you.
  • Pharmacists give practical advice about common ailments such as coughs, colds and rashes; they also provide emergency contraception.
  • Each pharmacy has a private room for you to speak to a pharmacist about your symptoms. You do not need to make an appointment.
  • When the doctor gives you a prescription for medicine, take it to a pharmacy. It costs £8.20 per item
  • If you are not yet 19 years old, or you have diabetes your prescriptions will be free
  • NHS Low Income Scheme for help with prescription costs. Apply for an HC2 certificate by filling in form HC1, available from doctors, dentist or opticians or by calling 0845 610 1112.
  • Register with a Dentist near to where you live. 
  • Ask the dentist whether they accept National Health Service (NHS) patients. 
  • The dentist may wish to conduct the same process for checking your entitlement to NHS care as a General Practitioner (GP).
  • If you are entitled to NHS treatment, you may still have to make a contribution towards the cost of your dental treatment.
  • If you are not entitled to NHS treatment, or the dentist you choose does not take NHS patients you will have to pay for the full cost of your treatment.
  • There is a dentist on the University campus in the Health Clinics building Open each weekday from 9.30 am
  • The entrance is on the right hand side of the Health Clinics building
Dental hospital

Birmingham Dental Hospital

  • Tel: 0121 466 5000
  • Address: St Chad's Circus, Birmingham, B4 6NN
  • Website

The dental hospital will treat patients with acute dental problems, particularly if they do not have their own dentist.

  • Eye care is provided by opticians who usually operate from high street shops.
  • You will normally have to pay a minimum charge for an eye test on the NHS (around £20) unless you are under 19 and in full-time study. 
  • If the test shows you need glasses or contact lenses, the optician will give you a prescription. 
  • The cost of frames and lenses varies considerably. 
  • You can apply for help with the cost of your eye test and glasses or contact lenses on the basis of low income in the same way as for prescriptions and dental treatment
  • Aston University teaches Optometry and the opticians on campus is a teaching clinic for our students.
  • Free eye tests for Aston University students:
  • Low cost frames and lenses
  • Contact lenses
  • Repairs service
  • Appointments are term time only
Important! MEN ACWY and MMR vaccine
  • The Men ACWY vaccine protects against four different causes of meningitis and septicaemia – meningococcal (Men) A, C, W and Y diseases.
  • The MMR vaccine is a single injection that protects against measles, mumps and rubella viruses. 
  • Once you have registered with a Doctor, you should ask about having the Men ACWY and MMR vaccine.
  • University students are at high risk of infection because they tend to live in close contact in shared accommodation, such as university halls of residence.
  • It’s FREE!
  • For further information please contact your local GP or visit and search for ‘Student Health’.
  • Contraception is free in the UK.
  • Your doctor’s surgery will be able to help you and will have special staff for you to consult. 
  • Or you can visit a free centre such as Brook which provides free and confidential sexual health services and advice for young people under 25. John Bright Street near New Street station.
  • If you have unprotected sex, women can go to any pharmacy for the ‘morning after pill’ for up to 5 days afterwards.
Counselling services
  • The University has a free and confidential Counselling Service for students.
  • See their website
  • or send an email to
  • They help with emotional problems and crises as well as with exam stress and homesickness.
Drinking water
  • It is safe to drink from cold water taps in the UK.
  • On very rare occasions, you may see a sign saying ‘Not drinking water'