Healthcare in the UK is provided by the National Health Service (NHS). Its care is completely free of charge at the point of service to all students and their families. Here you will find some useful information about different facets of this organization.
To register stop by your local surgery and fill out the registration application. If you choose not to go to the surgery closest to where you live, you will want to check to make sure that you still live within the area that your chosen surgery services. Also, you might need to bring your passport and visa with you to prove that you do qualify for free medical care while you are living here. After you have filled out and returned your paperwork, you may be scheduled an appointment to meet with the practice nurse (this depends on which surgery you choose). At this visit you can expect to have your weight and height measured (in kg and cm!), your blood pressure taken, and to answer some questions about your health history and the current state of your health. You will also be asked to provide a urine sample. After this visit with the nurse, you are officially registered and can then see the GPs (general practictioners) at your practice.
Note: It is possible to see either a GP or specialist prior to registering with the nurse under certain circumstances, such as an appointment for a severe illness or a needed ante-natal appointment with the midwife.
The cost of prescription medication is greatly reduced and sometimes free depending on your situation. Oral contraceptives are free as are prescriptions for pregnant and post-partum women (up to a year). Children under the age of 16 also receive free prescriptions.
Unfortunately, Scotland does not have enough dental care available for those who live here (though, to their credit, they are working towards training and providing more care soon). Aberdeen has an even greater shortage of dentists than other parts of the country. The NHS does provide some dental care but it is extremely difficult to find an NHS dentist who has openings. It is also challenging to find a private dentist who will take new patients. The best advice we can offer is to have your teeth in top shape before arriving and schedule any other check-up appointments for when you will be back in the US. It might also be helpful to start finding a dentist shortly after you arrive so that if you encounter a time when you do need one while living here you will have hopefully already secured a place with one.
Fortunately, there is much better eye care than dental care! If you need an eye exam simply make an appointment with a local optometrist. The eye exam (for glasses) will be covered by the NHS so it is free for you. If you need a contact lens appointment, they are not covered by the NHS and will cost from about £20 upwards. The cost of the actual frames and lenses is also an out-of-pocket expense, except for children. Children’s glasses are either free or at a reduced rate.