It’s important to look after your health as a student – especially if you have a health condition such as asthma, diabetes or require regular medication.
Register with a local GP
If like most students, you spend more weeks of the year at college or university address rather than your family’s address, you need to register with a local GP as soon as possible, so that you can access health services quickly and easily while you are studying.
If you become unwell or need medical treatment when you’re at home or not staying near your university GP, you can still contact your nearest practice to receive emergency treatment. If necessary you can register as a temporary resident and receive treatment for up to a three-month period.
Find a local dentist
You’ll also need to make sure that you find a local NHS dentist as soon as possible. Don’t wait for an emergency, regular check-ups can help prevent most dental problems before they become more serious.
If you do require urgent dental treatment, contact your usual NHS dental practice as they may be able to give you an emergency appointment straight away. Otherwise you can call 0161 476 965 for advice and details of where to go. This may be another NHS dentist in your area, or local emergency dental services.
Check your vaccinations
Students are now routinely offered a vaccination to prevent meningitis. The Men ACWY vaccine protects against four different causes of meningitis and septicaemia. All 17 and 18 year olds in school year 13 and first-time university students up to the age of 25 are eligible for the free vaccine.
Contact the GP you’re registered with to ask for the vaccine, ideally before the start of the academic year. This is because you’ll be at particularly high risk in the first weeks of term, when you are likely to come into contact with lots of new people.
Colleges and Universities also advise students to be immunised against mumps before starting their studies. These infections are rare, but occur more commonly among students. In fact, there have been several outbreaks of both infections in a number of UK universities in recent years.
Get help with healthcare costs
As a student you can get help with prescriptions and dental costs. If you’re 18 or under and in full-time education you’re automatically entitled to help with these, but if you’re 19 or over you’ll need to complete an HC1 form with details of your income to see if you are eligible.
HC1 forms are available from your GP or you can call the NHS Low Income Scheme on 0300 330 1343. They’ll fill in the form and post it to you, all you have to do is sign it and send it back with proof of your income, using the envelope provided.
If you become ill
When you become ill, you can get NHS advice from a number of places:
NHS.uk contains information about hundreds of health conditions and includes a symptom checker.
You can also speak to your local pharmacy without an appointment, for advice on treating everyday health problems.
You can also receive treatment for minor illnesses and injuries from NHS Walk-in Centres. These services are open early in the morning until late at night, including weekends and bank holidays. No appointment needed – you can just walk in and be seen.
If you aren’t sure what to do or need some advice, and it isn’t a life threatening 999 emergency, just call NHS 111 for help and support.
Free contraception and sexual health services
Even if you don’t plan to be sexually active while you’re a student, it’s good to be prepared. Contraception and condoms are free from any GP (it doesn’t have to be your own).
You can also get lots of free and confidential advice and support from local sexual health services in the area, including contraception, treatment for STIs, pregnancy testing, and support after a sexual assault.
You’re not alone
Student life can be stressful at times. Being away from home for the first time, mixed with the academic and financial pressures of being a student, can lead to mental health problems including anxiety and depression.
If you’re feeling stressed, down or are struggling to cope, you can speak to your GP or University/College counselling service.