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Medicine in the UK

If you are about to begin studying at a British boarding school, college or university you may have some questions about medicine in the UK. Many international students come to the UK with a variety of medicines from home. We advise you not to bring any medicine with you unless it has been prescribed for a genuine medical issue.

Your parents may ask you to bring a big bag of medical supplies to the UK in case you get ill during your year abroad.  However, if you do not know what medicines/drugs are in the bag, and/or what they are used for, it is highly likely that they will get confiscated and destroyed by customs or school.

If you have a genuine medical condition that requires that you bring medication to the UK, we advise that you also bring a medical report or doctor’s note stating why you are bringing the medicine into the country. Your doctor’s note and any medicine you bring will need to be fully translated into English. It is absolutely necessary to do this so that:

1. Customs officers know what you are bringing into the UK and why you have it otherwise they may take it off you.

2. Your school are also aware.

  • You must give any medicine to boarding staff or the school nurse when you arrive.
  • Your school will not allow you to self-medicate.

3. You can show it to your doctor in the UK.

  • This is so that they know what treatment you have had and what medication you are on in case they need to treat you.

You do not need to bring ANY medicine ‘in case’ you get ill. Medicine in the UK is readily available and we have an excellent health service which is famous around the world: the NHS (National Health Service).  If you are ill, you will be able to access the professional medical advice, and receive treatment and medication.  To access NHS services you will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your visa application.

Culturally, medicine in the UK is only prescribed when it is genuinely needed.  This is because doctors in the UK work for the government funded NHS. In some countries where medical care is privately funded, doctors sometimes oversubscribe medicine and treatments when they are not always needed because they receive extra payment.  For example, in some countries doctors will put you on a drip or give you lots of different medication for a common cough or cold. In the UK a doctor will usually tell you to rest and drink water as this has the same affect.

If you do become ill whilst you are in the UK, you do not need to worry. Study Links are here to help and support you. You can contact us 24/7 on our emergency phone.  If you get sick at school the school nurse will take very good care of you, as will your homestay if you should fall ill during a school holiday.

Rebecca (1)
Rebecca Duggan, Marketing Manager at Study Links

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