Health advice for international students

If you become unwell during your time in the UK then you'll need to know about the medical care you can receive.

Health entitlements

All students

  • You're entitled to free emergency care but if you're hospitalised and require further treatment, you may be charged. Please see below for further information.
  • No specific vaccinations are required to enter the UK. However, some nationals of certain countries require screening for tuberculosis. You may wish to bring vaccination records with you to show to a doctor if you need to. 
  • Medication prescribed by your doctor is subsidised by the National Health Service (NHS), but there is a standard charge of £8.40 per item that you must pay when you collect your medication from the pharmacy.
  • Services from dentists aren't free (except for children under the age of 18, or aged 18 and in full time education, or women eligible for NHS treatment who are pregnant or have had a baby in the 12 months before the treatment starts).
  • Eye treatment is not free. You may be entitled to a subsidised eye test but there will still be a charge for glasses or contact lenses. Children under 16, or under 19 and in full-time education are eligible for an NHS voucher entitling them to free eye tests and glasses.

Students studying for less than six months

  • You'll only get a limited number of services free.
  • Only initial emergency healthcare services provided by a hospital accident and emergency department will be free.
  • You'll be charged as a private fee-paying patient for all other treatments and services including consultations with doctors.
  • You won’t be able to register with a doctor, but you will be able to use their services as a fee-paying patient.
  • You should buy health insurance to cover you for using medical services while you're in the UK.
  • If your home country has a reciprocal health agreement with the UK you may be able to reclaim some healthcare costs. If you're from an EEA country, you'll need to apply for a European Health Insurance Card before leaving your home country. Please check the UKCISA website section for a full list of entitlements to NHS treatment.

Students studying for longer than six months

  • You (and your dependants) are entitled to free medical treatment from the NHS. From the 6 April 2015 you and your dependants will be required to pay an immigration health surcharge. The fee is a mandatory fee of £150 per person, per year. This fee will entitle you and your dependants to free health services under the NHS. Further information is available on the gov.uk website.
  • You must register with a local doctor as soon as possible.
  • This does not include dental care or non-necessary treatment.
  • You may need to buy health insurance to cover any treatment which is not covered by the NHS, or for private, non-emergency medical treatment.

For more information about entitlements for children, pregnant women or health benefits which may subsidise the cost of NHS prescriptions, dental charges and optical costs, visit the NHS website.


Useful contacts

Emergency healthcare

You should only visit a hospital if you need emergency care or if your doctor refers you for specialist treatment. An emergency is a life-threatening condition, such as loss of consciousness, severe chest pain, breathing difficulties or severe bleeding. The nearest Accident & Emergency (A&E) department to campus is in the city centre.

Leeds General Infirmary
Accident & Emergency Department
Jubilee Wing, Clarendon Way, Leeds, LS1 3EX
0113 243 2799

Emergency services: Call 999 when off campus, or 0113 343 2222 if you are on campus.

NHS 24-hour health advice: Call 111

Both the emergency services and the NHS helpline are free to call from any phone and operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Doctors

To register you will need to go to a doctor’s surgery and take the following documents:

  • proof of your identity (eg passport, driving licence etc)
  • proof of your student status (eg student ID card)
  • proof of your Leeds address (eg accommodation contract).

Most students choose to register with the Leeds Student Medical Practice located near the University campus. You can also search for other local doctors on the NHS Choices website.

Dentists

Services from dentists are not usually free, but there are many dentists in Leeds if you need treatment. You can search for a local dentist on the NHS Choices website or contact the Leeds Dental Advice Line on 0800 298 5787. For emergency dental care call 111 for advice.


Meningitis and septicaemia

Meningitis and meningococcal septicaemia (blood poisoning) are serious diseases that can strike rapidly with little warning and, if left untreated, could be fatal. Outbreaks of meningitis tend to occur where people live or work closely together, such as at university and living in shared student accommodation. For further information about meningitis and septicaemia, please read the NHS leaflet.

You should ensure that you’ve been appropriately vaccinated against meningitis ACWY and MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). You may have had an MMR vaccination as a young child, but you need to ensure that you’ve had two doses. If you haven’t had these vaccinations at home, you should arrange to get them as soon as possible after arriving in Leeds.

If you are entitled to free medical treatment on the NHS you may be eligible to receive the vaccinations. These are available from the Leeds Student Medical Practice.

If you are not entitled to free NHS treatment, you can get vaccinations from a local travel clinic.


When you are ill

If you have a minor health problem such as a cold, sore throat or dry skin, you can visit a pharmacy (chemist) to buy treatments.

For other non-emergency health problems you should see your local doctor.

If you have a serious accident or emergency you should go to the Accident & Emergency department of your local hospital. You'll not be seen there for routine illnesses.

What to do if your studies are affected by illness 

If your studies are affected because:

you are ill for less than seven days

  • complete an absence form online to inform your department. This is on the the Portal in the academic admin tab.

you are ill for more than seven days or you have to miss an exam or assessment

  • you must request a letter from a doctor in the UK during your illness. Letters issued after the illness won't be accepted. This letter will prove to the University and UK Visas & Immigration that you have health circumstances which should be taken into account when assessing your progress.

Mental wellbeing

To keep in good mental health, health experts recommend that you regularly:

  • talk to your family and friends
  • eat a healthy balanced diet
  • exercise
  • do something you enjoy
  • avoid too much alcohol.

It's normal to feel down or stressed at times, but if these feelings don’t go away quickly, or if you find it hard to cope with the normal stresses of life, it is important to seek help.

If you feel depressed, stressed, anxious or lonely for whatever reason, you can seek confidential help by:

If you have a pre-existing mental health condition then read our information on mental health difficulties to find out about the support that is available to you.


Sexual Health and Relationships

You may notice differences between the views and behaviours related to sexual relationships in the UK and those you have experienced at home. The University supports students to follow their own beliefs about what is appropriate to them in a relationship. The legal age of consent for heterosexual or homosexual sex in the UK is 16.

For information on sexual health, contraception and support related to sexual relationships, visit Student Advice in Leeds University Union or the Leeds Sexual Health or Family Planning Association websites.


Smoking, alcohol and drugs

Smoking

It is illegal to smoke in virtually all enclosed public places, workplaces and on public transport in the UK. If you break the law you can be fined or even prosecuted.

You cannot smoke in any University buildings or at entrances to University buildings, including doorways and covered walkways.

Leeds Student Medical Practice or your local doctor can give you support if you want to stop smoking.

Alcohol

For some UK students drinking with friends is a very important part of their social life and some may drink more than is good for them. However, many UK students just have a few drinks and some choose not to drink alcohol at all. You certainly won’t be alone if you ask for a non-alcoholic drink, whether you are at a bar, or at someone’s home. All UK social venues offer a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks so don’t be embarrassed to order one. There are also lots of venues and events where alcohol is not served.

It is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy alcohol. For more information about the health implications of drinking and laws relating to drinking alcohol, visit the Drink Aware website and the government-run websites ‘Talk to Frank’ and 'THINK!'

Drugs

All controlled drugs such as cannabis, ecstasy/MDMA and cocaine are illegal in the UK.

If you are caught with controlled drugs in your possession you can be criminally prosecuted. This could also lead to the University taking strict disciplinary action and result in your expulsion from the University.

If you are concerned or have questions about drugs, the National Drugs Helpline is a 24-hour, seven-days a week, free and confidential telephone service that offers advice and information. There's also lots of information on the NHS Choices website and ‘Talk to Frank’ website.