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Health & Healthcare

Health and Healthcare

Health and Healthcare
How the UK Medical System Works

This below resource aims to give advice on looking after yourself, as well as practical information on how to obtain medical treatment.

It also explains international students’ entitlement to free medical treatment under the UK state health system. It describes the different options such as Accident & Emergency, visiting your GP and hospital appointments.

How the UK Medical System Works

University Health Centre

The University Health Centre at Queen's is an independent National Health general medical practice located next to the Student Guidance Centre. The practice provides both student-focused and general National Health services. Click here to watch the University Health Centre's short video. Click here to access Dr Martin Cunningham's blog - Student Health in a time of COVID.

Information on how to register with the practice for GP services depends on a number of factors including; citizenship, immigration status; including how long you will be spending in Belfast. The University Health Cente has phone access to a duty doctor for urgent medical queries. They also have a doctor who will deal with medical emergencies both morning and afternoon.

If you are a student that normally resides outside the UK and Ireland you can register with the University GP practice for the duration of your stay if you are in going to be living in Belfast for three months or more. If are a student from outside the UK and Ireland and you will be living in Belfast for less than three months, you may wish to consider applying for private health insurance.

You must be registered with the practice in order to seek medical care and have more than 3 months left on your visa. The University Health Centre accept registrations from students residing in the BT1-BT12 and BT17 catchment areas. Please note that it will take approximately 6 weeks to get your NHS card.

You can access the University Health Centre website below:

University Health Centre Website

Registering with the University Health Centre

7 University Terrace, Belfast, BT7 1NP

Opening Hours (Mon-Fri):
9.15-12.30 & 15.00-17.00 (Prescription collection only in the afternoon)
*Please note that the reception closes from 12.30 to 13.30 each day

The University Health Centre have scaled back their opening hours due to the current pandemic to reduce footfall into the practice. They will update their website with any changes. However the above hours will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Telephone Appointments & Prescriptions:
08.30-11.00 & 13.30-18.00
+44 (028) 9066 4634 
*medical emergencies during 11.00-13.30 can press the emergency line option of the telephone line

Out of hours:
+44 (028) 9079 6220
* bank holidays, public holidays, weekends etc.

You can access specific directions here.

Documentation Required

The University Health Centre are offering online registrations presently to reduce footfall in the surgery. You can download the necessary forms to register with the practice below:

Register with the UHC

You will need to provide the following documents to complete your registration:
1. BRP
2. Passport
3. Proof of your UK address 

If you have yet to receive your BRP you can use your letter provided to you by the Home Office in the interim, but you will still need to provide the University Health Centre with a copy of your BRP card just as soon as you receive this.

If you require proof of address and you are residing in QUB accommodation you can request a proof of resident letter. You can email to request the forms required to submit this request.

Once completed, please send your form through to the relevant email address outlined below:
Elms BT9: 

Your letter can be collected from the respective site reception. Please note that this process takes approximately 24 hours.

If you are residing in private accommodation please request this information from your landlord or provide a copy of your tenancy agreement to evidence your address.

Do I require Private Medical Insurance to come to the UK?

Most medical treatment in the UK is provided under the National Health Service (NHS). Some services are free and there are charges for others.

If you are following a full-time course of study lasting more than six months you will be entitled to treatment under the National Health Service. If you are married, your spouse and any children will also be entitled to free cover.

If your course lasts less than six months, you will not be entitled to treatment except by a hospital in an emergency unless you come from a country which has a reciprocal health care agreement with the UK. Students from countries with which the UK has a reciprocal health care agreement may receive health care as "temporary residents”. Students from other countries may be required to show personal medical insurance.

In some cases reciprocal health care agreements exclude treatment for conditions that existed prior to your arrival in the UK. Check this before you leave your home country.

If you are studying a course that lasts less than six months, you should bring any regular medication with you as this medication will be charged at full cost.

Click here for more information

Local Medical Practices

Local Hospitals


The national emergency number in the UK is 999. This is for the Police, Ambulance and Fire Service and is only to be used for very serious emergencies.

If you are not sure about whether or not you should ring 999, you can ring Queen’s Security on +44 (028) 9097 5099.

The national non-emergency and general enquiries telephone number in the UK is 101. You can call 101 if you wish to report a non-emergency incident or hate crime.

111 is the NHS non-emergency free number. You can call this number for medical advice.


You should visit your doctor in your home country before departing for the UK to check if you are required to have any vaccinations or if these are recommended.

There are some vaccinations which the UK NHS recommends you should have before you arrive or soon after you arrive.

Click here for more information

Out of Hours Pharmacies

The NHS Direct line will be able to tell you where you can find an out of hours pharmacy in Belfast:

Click here for more information


There is a charge for all dental treatment but it is less expensive to be treated through the NHS than as a private patient. It might not be possible to find a dentist who can provide you with dental treatment under the NHS. When you register with a dentist you should check this with them. A list of dentists in Belfast is available from the University Health Centre. You will receive a healthcare number once registered with the GP which you can provide your local dentist with.

Emergency Dentists


There is a minimum charge for an eye test and you will have to pay the cost of any spectacles or contact lenses that you may require.

Opticians in Belfast

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