As a student in Leeds, you'll need to register with a doctor, and be familiar with where to go if you need help, treatment or advice.
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 doctor (GP).
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.
If you are new to the UK, you can find a useful explanation of the UK healthcare system on the UKCISA website.
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. From Minerva, click the ‘Access Student Services” icon in the toolbar in the top right. Once logged in to Student Services, click “Student Services” on the menu and follow links to Absence Notification.
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.
Doctors and dentists
Leeds Student Medical Practice is currently doing registration for new patients online. The registration process generally takes 2 days, although it can take longer in September.
You can also find a list of other local doctors on the NHS Choices website.
If you wish to register with an NHS dentist in the UK, you should first register with a doctor, so you have an NHS number. If you are entitled to NHS treatment find a local dentist who is currently taking on new patients. The NHS has fixed charges for dental treatment, unless you qualify for dental charge exemption.
For private care, contact the dentist surgery directly. You are likely to get seen faster than with an NHS practice, but it may be very expensive. Check what is covered in your medical insurance if you have it.
In the case of a dental emergency you can ring 111 for advice.
Current government guidelines ask that you do not visit a dentist unless you have been asked to. You should call or email first.
To keep in good mental health, health experts recommend that you regularly:
- talk to your family and friends
- eat a healthy balanced diet
- 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:
- contacting Leeds Student Medical Practice or your doctor
- talking to a counsellor from from the Student Counselling and Wellbeing service or attending one of their workshops.
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 the Help and Support Team in Leeds University Union or the Leeds Sexual Health or Family Planning Association websites.
Smoking, alcohol and drugs
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.
The University is becoming a smokefree campus, and we are asking people not to smoke on the smokefree campus, between 8.00 – 18.00 every day. Currently you can still vape outdoors as it’s recognised as an aid to stop smoking. If you want to quit smoking, free help and support is available.
Leeds Student Medical Practice or your local doctor can give you support if you want to stop smoking.
For some students drinking with friends is a very important part of social life and some may drink more than is good for them. However, many 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 websites ‘Frank’ and 'THINK!'
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, there’s lots of information on the Frank website and NHS website. You can also contact the Frank drugs helpline on 0300 123 6600. This 24-hour, seven-days a week, free and confidential telephone service offers advice and information.
Meningitis and septicaemia
The NHS recommend that you should be vaccinated against meningitis C, ideally before arrival. If you haven’t had a Meningitis vaccination before coming to Leeds, you should make an appointment with your doctor once you have registered. For further information about meningitis and septicaemia, please read this information for University Students from the NHS.
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.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection spread through inhaling tiny droplets from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person. It mainly affects the lungs, but it can affect any part of the body, including the tummy (abdomen), glands, bones and nervous system. Often the symptoms can be similar to COVID-19. Find out more and register and see a doctor if you are worried.
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.
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.
What are you entitled to?
Find out about your health care entitlements, whether you're a UK or an international student.
If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss student and you were living in the UK before 31 December 2020, please also see the latest information on healthcare entitlements from UKCISA.
If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national who arrived from 1 January 2021, your entitlement will depend on the type of visa you have. For more information about visas please read our Brexit information.
- In England, you’re entitled to receive NHS (National Health Service) Primary care medical services at a GP (general practitioner) surgery without charge. GPs are usually the first point of contact for all patients.
- You should register with a local GP surgery as soon as possible.
- 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 NHS, but there is a standard charge of £9 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.
International students with visas for less than six months
- You'll only get a limited number of services free.
- Initial emergency healthcare services provided by a hospital accident and emergency department will be free, but you’ll be charged for any further treatment or services.
- You should buy health insurance in advance of your travel 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, some costs may be covered or 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.
International students with visas for more than six months
- You (and your dependants) are entitled to free medical treatment from the NHS. You and your dependants are required to pay an immigration health surcharge. The fee is a mandatory fee of £470 per person, per year of your visa. This fee will entitle you and your dependants to free health services under the NHS. Further information is available on the gov.uk website.
- 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.
You can find more information about healthcare charges and services on the gov.uk website.
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.