Student health services
If you're a student, you can get healthcare cheap or even free. Be sure to use it.
Larger universities tend to have their own student health centre on campus. Depending on the size of the centre, it may house several doctors who are specialists in student ailments, nurses, physiotherapists, and sometimes dentists. If there is no student health centre, students have to register with a nearby doctor (GP).
A list of local doctors is included in most welcome packs, and freshers are strongly advised to sign up with a doctor in the first few days that they arrive. Nobody ever plans to get sick, but if you aren't registered with a doctor that just makes everything more difficult at a time when you aren't feeling 100%.
Student counselling services
This includes trained counsellors and psychologists who provide a strictly confidential service for students in distress. They are available for anyone who is struggling with homesickness, anxiety, exam stress, bereavement, depression and a host of other problems. Your counselling services may be part of the health centre, student advice centre, or have its own separate building.
You may be entitled to free, or reduced cost dental care on the NHS if your income is deemed low enough (see below). If your university has a dental school, you may be offered free dental treatment of all kinds. The trainee dentists are supervised by senior staff at all times, rather that being set loose on an unsuspecting student population.
Some students will qualify for free eye tests, and discounts on frames and lenses, the optician should be able to tell you more. Buying new glasses or contact lenses can be a major expense, but it's an essential one if you can't see projections or writing on the board during your lectures.
Pharmacists are a good source of advice for minor ailments, saving you a long wait to see your GP, but if you think it's something serious, make an emergency appointment to see the doctor instead.
How much should healthcare cost?
Generally if you are aged 18 or under you can get free prescriptions and dental care.
In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland students 19 or over won't automatically be able to claim for prescriptions and dental care, but they can claim under the NHS Low Income Scheme. A leaflet called HC11 students' guide explains all.
Prescriptions are free in Wales, and dental treatment is free for under 25s, but for other costs you can get help by completing a form HC1W.
More information on NHS charges.
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