Below, we have included important information about looking after yourself – both physically and mentally – while you are in the UK.
You can also find a helpful page about health and healthcare in the UK on UKCISA’s webpage.
Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
If you have come to the UK on a Student visa, it is very likely that you will have paid Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your online visa application. This gives you access to NHS services as if you were a permanent resident of the UK. Some services will still require payment, such as prescription medications, dental treatment, optical exams, and possibly some pre-existing conditions.
Visas of less than 6 months or no Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
If you have come to the UK to study for less than 6 months, you may not have paid Immigration Health Surcharge and so will not be eligible for free NHS care. This will include anyone on a Visitor visa.
This means it is very important that you make sure you have sufficient private healthcare insurance to cover your stay in the UK, in case you need to access healthcare services whilst staying here. It is most likely that the services you access will still be provided by the NHS, but this will not be free.
Students from the European Union or Switzerland
Some students who paid IHS and are from the EU or Switzerland can apply for an IHS reimbursement from 1 January 2022. If you are from an EU country, this reimbursement will be backdated to include any IHS payments made for a visa starting on or after 1 January 2021. If you are a student from Switzerland, your reimbursement will be backdated to 1 November 2021, even if your visa started before this. There are deadlines and conditions to consider before applying for this reimbursement and we would advise that you contact Student Life International before proceeding.
GPs are doctors who work in community practices (or surgeries). You should register with a GP as early as you can, after arriving in the UK. Registration is free and is also a requirement of the UEA General Regulations for Students.
In most cases, when you need medical treatment, a GP will be your first point of contact. Most everyday illnesses can be managed by your GP; they will refer you to hospital specialists if they are not able to provide the treatment you need. GP surgeries often provide a wide range of community health services, including vaccinations, women's health clinic, family planning, contraception and sexual health.
There is a GP surgery on campus - University Medical Services (UMS) - near the Bluebell Road entrance. You should register here if you are living in UEA Accommodation. You can find more information on UMS, including how to register, on their website.
If you are living off-campus but inside Norwich, you can still register with UMS. Alternatively, you can Find a GP near where you live and register with them. If you live outside Norwich, you will need to do this as you cannot register at UMS.
As an overseas visitor, you may be required to attend a TB Screening. This service is free and will be provided by University Medical Services, whether or not you are registered with them. You must be screened for TB at UMS within 28 days of registration at UEA, if your programme of study is longer than 3 months' duration and:
You are usually resident in a country listed by UMS as 'high risk' for TB, or
You were born in a country listed by UMS as 'high risk' for TB, or
You have been travelling or living in a country listed as 'high risk' for TB for at least six of the last twelve months.
This is in addition to any screening in your home country before travel. You can find a list of countries considered ‘high risk’ for TB and the number to book a screening here.
Staff at the UMS specialise in student health, early diagnosis and intervention, and health promotion. Female and male GPs are available, and you can request an appointment with a GP of a specific gender. UEA Medical Centre offers confidential services and can help with:
Medical certificates and reports
Referrals to hospital
If you are visiting UEA for less than three months, UMS can see you free of charge if your treatment is immediately necessary or urgent (i.e. something that cannot wait until you return home). You can also visit the walk-in centre in the city.
Students visiting UEA for between three and six months can register at UMS for primary care (GP) services but may be required to pay for secondary care (hospital) services, such as referrals, treatments, and investigations.
Students visiting UEA for 6 months or more are eligible to register fully for primary and secondary care services.
NOTE: All registrations at UMS are subject to applicants meeting UEA Medical Centre affiliation criteria. You can check these by reading the ‘Am I Eligible to Register?’ section of their webpage. Contact details and opening hours for UMS are at the bottom of the page.
Pharmacy - Pharmacies offer some clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for a range of minor illnesses, including coughs & colds, sore throats, and minor aches & pains. You can find your closest pharmacy here.
GP - Doctors and Nurses at GP Surgeries can offer appointments to discuss medical issues and prescribe treatments. Appointments can be booked in advance, offered urgently 'on-the-day', or offered at regular clinics.
Call 111 - You can dial 111 from a landline or mobile phone for non-emergency, out-of-hours advice. You can also visit 111.nhs.uk.
Walk-in - Out-of-hours medical care can be accessed at the Norwich Walk-in Centre at Rouen House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RB.
A&E - Accident and Emergency Departments (A&E) in hospitals are for emergencies only. If you are unsure, you can call NHS 111 first. They will be able to tell you if you need to go to A&E.
Call 999 - In an emergency, call 999 immediately.
If you studied at INTO with a visa shorter than 6 months and applied to renew your Student visa in the UK to undertake your UEA course, you will need to ensure that your private medical insurance continues to cover you until your new visa is granted. Coverage under IHS will not begin until the start date of your new visa. Access to NHS services without insurance or IHS coverage can be very expensive.
Patients accessing dental services will still incur charges, even where they are entitled to free NHS care. These charges are regulated, and are lower than accessing dental treatment with a private dentist. There is a dental practice at UMS. Alternatively, you can find other NHS dentists. You do not need to speak with a GP before going to see a dentist.
Optical services are generally provided by private companies in the UK, such as Specsavers, Boots or Vision Express. These are just some examples, but there are many to choose from in Norwich. Eye tests, glasses and contact lenses will need to be paid for - these are not provided freely on the NHS. The costs can vary widely, depending on the lenses and frames required.
If you are experiencing difficulties with your wellbeing or mental health, you can seek free and confidential support from:
UEA Student Services - Wellbeing Team - there are many ways that the Wellbeing Service can help you, from workshops and group sessions, one-to-one appointments, self-help resources and online support, and help with accessing external support.
Health Assured - a 24-hour helpline staffed by experienced advisers or fully qualified therapists (UEA log-in required).
If you are facing an emergency where you do not feel you can keep yourself safe, or someone else's life is at risk, you should call 999. Both mental and physical health emergencies can be handled this way.
Sexual Health and family planning services are available at UEA Medical Services (UMS) and other services across Norwich. Services are free, confidential, and can be accessed for advice and information, as well as for treatment. You can access these services for:
- Contraception (birth control)
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
- Sexual Health Screening
- Pregnancy testing and questions about pregnancy
iCash on Oak Street, Norwich, is an alternative NHS-funded clinic that also offers contraceptive and sexual health services, if you would prefer.
It is really important that you read about what needs to be considered if you have a baby in the UK on UKCISA’s website. You can find this information under the section ‘Children born while Student in the UK'.
Babies born in the UK are covered by their mother's Immigration Health Surcharge until the age of 3 months old. After this, they will require their own dependant visa and IHS coverage. To get a dependant visa for your new baby, you must be able to provide a full UK birth certificate showing the names of both parents. If you would like support with this application, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can also be found on UKCISA's website.