One of the great things about being an international student in the UK is that you qualify for free health care through the National Health Service (NHS). When you arrive in the UK, you will have to register with a local General Practitioner’s Surgery (which means clinic in British English). I registered with the Health Centre at the University of Edinburgh. Registering was fairly quick and easy, all I had to do was fill out a registration form, and bring my student id card and proof of address.
As many of you know, I fractured my vertebral column in a serious car accident in Seattle last August, so having access to good health care was a high priority. I’ve visited the Health Centre several times since I arrived in Edinburgh, and overall, I am satisfied with the quality of service, especially considering it’s free.
One of the best things about the University Health Centre is their drop-in hours, which take place from 9:00am to 10:00am from Monday through Friday. This means you can see a doctor almost every day of the week. But keep in mind, the waits are long and the doctors are usually rushed. If you’d like more time and personalized care, I’d suggest setting up an appointment outside of drop-in hours. The wait for an appointment is usually about a week long, depending on your doctor.
Because of my accident, I had to undergo physical therapy (they call it physiotherapy in the UK) and get x-rays. To see a physiotherapist, you can either fill out a self-referral form or get a GP referral. If you self-refer, it will take about six weeks to see a therapist, but if you get GP referral, the wait should be no more than a week. I have seen the University physiotherapist once, and the quality of care and methods seems to be the same as my therapist in the States. I plan to see the physiotherapist a couple more times once I have my x-rays analyzed.
Photo by flickr user memekode