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Healthcare in the UK

Accessing NHS services as an international student

The UK has a National Health Service (NHS) – so unlike many other regions and countries around the world, healthcare is funded by taxes and is free to British citizens at the point of delivery.

International students' access to NHS services

If you join us on a Student Route visa for a full-time course or part-time postgraduate course for more than 6 months, you will be subject to the Immigration Health Surcharge of £470 per year, , this will increase to £776 per year from January 2024, payable with your visa application. This helps cover your NHS costs while you're in the UK, so you can access NHS services whenever you need them.

If you have any dependants living permanently with you for the duration of your course, they must also pay the surcharge when they apply for their visa. You'll all need to pay any additional statutory NHS charges, like any prescriptions.

EU, EEA and Swiss Citizens

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen who was resident in the UK before 30 December 2020 and have been granted Settled or Pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) or have an EUSS application pending, you can access free healthcare through the NHS as long as you continue to be ordinarily resident in the UK. The NHS may ask for evidence of your status. Further information about access to the NHS can be found on the website.

If you are studying in the UK for less than six months and are citizen of the EU or Norway, you can access medical treatment if you hold a valid EU issued EHIC card. Citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland will need to pay for medical care.

IHS Reimbursement for EU and Swiss Citizens

If you have paid the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) for a Student Route visa started on or after 1 January 2021, are a full-time student and do not work in the UK, you may be entitled to apply for an IHS reimbursement after 1 January 2022. You must also have an EHIC card issued in an EU country or Switzerland.

If you arrive in the UK from 1 January 2022, you’ll have a year to apply from the start date of your visa.

You should apply for your reimbursement as soon as possible after arriving in the UK. This will help you to have all the relevant documents you need to make an application. It also means we can give you important information about using your EHIC to get medical treatment.

You’ll get an IHS reimbursement that covers the period that your EHIC is valid in the UK. In order to be eligible for a full reimbursement, you should ensure that you hold a valid EHIC for the duration of your stay.

If you wish to work in the UK you should not apply for the reimbursement.

Travelling to and from the UK and study of less than 6 months

We recommend that you buy travel insurance that includes comprehensive sickness cover for the duration of your studies to cover any travel that you may do between the UK and other countries. You should buy this insurance before you travel to the UK so that you are covered for your journey to the UK and any journeys to your home country or for holidays.

Private healthcare

You can choose to take private medical cover if you prefer. We can't recommend any specific medical insurance providers, but all should be able to provide insurance that covers:

  • The cost of bringing a relative to the UK to visit you after a medical emergency or if you get sick
  • The cost of returning to your home country for treatment if this is necessary
  • The cost of returning to your home country if a family member is sick
  • Lost tuition fees if you're unable to complete your course

Healthcare in Portsmouth

We hope you don't need medical attention while you're living in Portsmouth – but if you do, there are plenty of doctor's surgeries in the area. Register with one as soon as you arrive, so you know who to contact if you are ill or injured.


It's important that you keep up with your recommended vaccinations, both for yourself and the protection of others.

We recommend that you check with your doctor in your home country to check that you are up to date with your vaccinations.

If you are not sure if you need further vaccinations speak to your GP surgery when you register with them.

You can find out more information on the Vaccination page on MyPort.

Getting help from the NHS

Health advice - NHS 111

Call 111 or visit for health advice. It's a free service that allows you to speak to NHS staff who can give you health advice or help find which service is best for you.

Illnesses and minor injuries

The Urgent Treatment Centre and Minor Injury Unit at St Mary's Hospital, east of the University campus can help with minor illnesses and injuries

They can offer treatment, advice and information for incidents like minor head and eye wounds, treating sprains, strains and breaks to arms, lower legs and feet. 

Calling an ambulance 

If you or someone else has a serious or life-threatening injury or condition on campus, call the Security Lodge for an ambulance on extension 3333 or +44 (0)23 9284 3333. You'll be asked:

  • The location, including the area or room in the building
  • The phone number you're calling from
  • What's happened?

The Security Lodge will call an ambulance and dispatch caretakers and security to assist and arrange access for the ambulance crew. They will call you back to confirm that the ambulance is on its way.

Life threatening emergencies

If you need urgent medical treatment for a life threatening emergency, the local hospital in Portsmouth is Queen Alexandra Hospital ("QA Hospital") in the north of the city.

The Emergency Department at QA Hospital treats those with life-threatening emergencies, such as loss of consciousness, persistent or severe chest pain, breathing difficulties or severe bleeding that cannot be stopped.