Healthcare in the UK for Language Students

Knowing how to access healthcare in a new country can be difficult, so we have put together this handy guide for language students. Learn about the National Health Service, seeing a doctor or dentist and some useful vocabulary.


General Healthcare

If you need to see a doctor please talk to your homestay host, Kate or Sarah. Treatment under the National Health Service is free:

  • if you are studying for more than six months
  • if you are from an EU country
  • if your country has a health agreement with the U.K

If none of these apply, you will have to pay if you are admitted to a hospital bed (unless your illness is an infectious one). Only emergency outpatient treatment for accidents is free. You will also be charged for a consultation or visit by a local doctor. The cost is usually £75 to see a doctor and £45 to see a nurse.

If your language course lasts for more than six months, you will be accepted by the NHS (National Health Service) for free treatment for:

  • any illness which has developed during your stay
  • for a previous condition which has become worse and needs urgent treatment
  • for accidents

A pregnancy which began before you left home is not treated free, except in an emergency. Even if treatment is free, you must pay part of the cost of medicine. If you know you are pregnant when you book your course, please let the school know.

If you are going to be studying at Select English for more than 6 months we will arrange for you to register with a local doctor soon after your arrival.


Medical Insurance

If you are not covered by NHS treatment (see above) it is a very good idea to arrange medical insurance. If you have not arranged this before you come to Cambridge, please ask the school for advice on where to get cover.


Dental Treatment

If you need dental treatment, you will have to pay the full cost as a private patient.


Useful Language: Visiting a Doctor

Questions the doctor might ask you:

What’s the matter? (What’s wrong?)/ How can I help?

Tell the doctor your symptoms.

  • I have a headache/ stomach ache/ sore throat/ back ache/ earache/ high temperature/ rash/ cough/ chest pains/ hay fever/ asthma.
  • I have a pain in my neck.
  • I feel sick/ dizzy.
  • I can’t sleep.

How long have you been feeling ill?

3 days/ 1 week…

Are you allergic to anything? (You can’t eat some food/ take some medicine/ be near an animal because it makes you sick.)

I am allergic to nuts/ cats

Are you taking any medication?

I am taking aspirin 3 times a day.

The doctor will then give you advice.

  • Take some medicine.
  • Get plenty of rest.

If you need some medicine, the doctor will give you a prescription. This is a piece of ​paper on which a ​doctor writes what ​medicine you ​need. Take the prescription to a pharmacy to get your medicine. If your problem is not serious, you can buy some medicine, such as aspirin in the supermarket without a prescription.