Access to healthcare services

Healthcare in the UK is provided by the National Health Service (NHS), and is available to anyone who is 'ordinarily resident' (including EU/EEA citizens with settled or pre-settled status) or who has paid the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of a visa application. Visa holders should bring their Biometric Residence Permit with them when accessing healthcare services. 

You should register with your nearest health centre soon after your move to the UK. Your surgery will then assign a doctor, known as a 'general practitioner' or 'GP', who will oversee your routine medical care. There is no charge for basic healthcare, e.g. general consultations at a GP practice or at any hospital (your GP will refer you if you need non-urgent hospital care). However, you may be required to pay some or all the cost of prescription medicines, dental or eye treatment.  If you require further information about healthcare, healthcare resources and counselling in the UK, please consult the University's Occupational Health Service pages.

If you are not yet registered with a doctor but require a medical appointment, you can receive treatment from any local GP practice (medical practice) within 14 days of arriving in the country.

Private healthcare

The NHS provision should be sufficient for most healthcare needs, but in some circumstances (e.g. Visitors section below) it may be advisable to take out additional cover for you and your family. University staff can obtain discounted medical insurance through EduHealth.


Colleges make arrangements for students to register with a designated local health centre at the start of their course, which means they can attend surgery sessions in college with a GP or nurse at designated times. 


If you are here for less than six months, or are here on an Academic Visitor visa of any length, then you are only entitled to free NHS hospital treatment in emergency situations. For non-emergency cover, you should arrange private medical insurance for the duration of your stay.

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The nearest Accident & Emergency department is at the John Radcliffe Hospital on Headley Way. To call an ambulance, dial 999 from a landline, or 112 from a mobile. Only call an ambulance when someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

Most health centres offer 'emergency' or 'urgent' appointments or walk-in clinics if you need a same-day consultation for a medical condition which is not life-threatening.

If your health centre is closed, you should be able to obtain the 'out of hours' contact number for alternative healthcare during the closed period. You can also call the NHS Direct advice line on 111 who can organise out of hours care from GPs, community nurses or paramedics as appropriate. The NHS website gives information on the most common conditions, along with their treatments, or you can consult your local pharmacist for advice about minor illnesses.

The NHS offers subsidised dental services. Children receive free treatment, as do people who meet certain other criteria (check your eligibility). Some dental practices work in the private sector (i.e. not funded by the NHS), or offer a combination of NHS and private services. It can be difficult to find a good dental practice which has spaces for NHS patients, so ask colleagues or neighbours for recommendations. If you have private healthcare insurance, you should check whether this includes dental cover.

The University and colleges do not normally have special arrangements with opticians, so you should register with an optician of your choice. Charges vary, but University employees who use display screen equipment (DSE) may be able to claim back the cost of a sight test. If you have a visual problem which requires specialist attention, you will be referred to the hospital eye service.

Please note that the NHS care does not cover you for healthcare outside the UK and separate travel insurance should be arranged for this. If you are from the European Economic Area (EEA), you should apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which will entitle you to some medical coverage while you are travelling within EEA countries. Additional, private medical insurance may be advisable for travel outside Europe.

Did you know?

The NHS is the largest and oldest state-funded healthcare system in the world, founded just after the Second World War in 1948. It treats 1 million patients every 36 hours, and is the largest employer in the UK, with over 1.6 million staff. The University works with the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to deliver world-leading medical research.

The site of the first hospital in the city, the Radcliffe Infirmary (1770), has been redeveloped as the University's Radcliffe Observatory Quarter including the Andrew Wiles Building and the Blavatnik School of Government.