It is very important you are registered with a doctor while you study at UCL so that you can get medical care if you need it. It is also important that you have Meningitis and MMR vaccinations.
We strongly recommend that you register with a GP within the first few weeks of arriving in the UK. This will make sure your GP can process your registration and provide you with an NHS number in good time. You need to have an NHS number to have hospital treatment or if you need to be referred to a specialist clinician.
How to register with a GP
If you live in central or north London, you will likely fall within the catchment area for Ridgmount Practice, UCL’s partner health clinic, and should be able to register there.
Ridgmount Practice provides general health care, a contraceptive service and a full nursing service.
If you live outside Ridgmount Practice’s catchment area, you can search for an NHS general practice near you on the NHS website, and you will need to contact them to find out how to register. Find your nearest GP practice.
Additional health care information for non-UK students is available on the International Student Support website.
Vaccinations you need before coming to University
We would like to remind you to check if you have had your key vaccinations and to remain vigilant to the symptoms of serious illnesses. Students can be more vulnerable to illness as they are often living closely in student residences and mixing with lots of new people.
You are strongly recommended to have the following vaccinations before starting at UCL:
Meningitis - All university students (under 25 years) should be immunised against Meningitis (ACWY). All freshers (1st year undergraduates) are now advised to have a Meningitis (ACWY) booster if they were less than 10 years of age when they received their first Meningitis C injection. Students under 25 years old who have never had any meningitis vaccine (Men C, Men AC, or Men ACWY) are eligible to have Meningitis ACWY vaccine.
- MMR vaccine - MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles). Before starting higher education students should have two doses.
If you have not had these immunisations Ridgmount Practice can provide them. It is best if this happens within the first two weeks of term to allow time for immunity to develop, so contact Ridgmount Practice as soon as possible upon arrival if you have not had your vaccinations.
Illnesses that require vigilance
Meningitis is an infection of the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. It is very serious, can develop quickly and, in some cases, can be fatal. Viral meningitis is rarely serious and is not helped by antibiotics. Bacterial meningitis is less common than viral meningitis, but is a serious illness and needs urgent treatment with antibiotics.
As the early symptoms of meningitis can disguise themselves as other things, such as common illnesses like flu, or maybe a hangover, it’s easy to mistake meningitis for something else.
A classic symptom of meningitis is a blotchy rash that doesn't fade when a glass is rolled over it, but this symptom does not always appear. According to the NHS, further symptoms can include:
- fever, cold hands and feet
- vomiting and diarrhoea
- drowsiness, difficult to wake up
- irritability and/or confusion
- dislike of bright lights
- severe headache or muscle pains
- pale, blotchy skin with or without a rash
- stiff neck
These symptoms can appear in any order, and not everyone will get all of them.
What should I do if I suspect I have meningitis?
Those experiencing symptoms of meningitis should seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Meningitis can potentially be fatal within a matter of hours. If you suspect you may have meningitis, seek urgent medical attention - call 999 for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E department.
If you're not sure if it's anything serious or you think you may have been exposed to someone with meningitis, call NHS 111 or your GP surgery for advice.
Mumps is an acute viral illness in which the salivary parotid glands in the cheek and jaw, swell and become painful. Mumps is highly infectious, however usually occurs in people who have never been or only partially been immunised.
The main symptoms are:
- fever, headache, tiredness, aching muscles and joints and a reduced appetite lasting several days
- then swelling and pain of one or both salivary parotid glands lasting 4-8 days. (The parotid glands are found at the side of the face just below the ears and usually cannot be seen or felt.)
- dry mouth and difficulty or pain on chewing and swallowing.
About a third of people have no symptoms at all.
Are there any complications?
Mumps is normally a mild illness. However the following complications can sometimes occur:
- viral meningitis in 1 in 7 cases.
- encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in 1 in 400 of cases associated with deafness in one or both ears.
- inflammation of the pancreas, heart and other organs
- inflammation of the testes (testicles), usually on one side, in 1 in 5 of adolescent or adult males occasionally causing infertility.
- inflammation of the ovaries 1 in 20 of adolescent or adult females; again, occasionally causing infertility.
What do I do if I think I have mumps?
You should contact your GP and mention that you suspect an infectious illness so they can put you at the end of their appointment list.
Public Health England recommend that anyone with mumps should not go to University or work for the period that they feel unwell and for five days following the onset of swollen glands. Careful handwashing and disposing of tissues is very important.