If you’ve moved out of your local city to study at university, you may be thinking about how to change doctors. You may have also forgotten – as it’s not usually the first thing we think of. But it’s a good idea to know how to go about changing doctors, before you need to go!

Do I need to change doctors while I’m at university?

If you’re attending university in a different place to where you were living previously, it’s usually helpful to register with local doctors. You’ll be spending quite a lot of time in this place, and may need a GP appointment at some point during this time. It’s particularly important if you suffer from any health issues that require ongoing checkups or medication, such as asthma.

What happens if I get ill at home during Christmas, Easter or summer break?

If you’ve changed doctors so you’re registered with one in your university town, you can still get treatment during the holidays. According to the NHS site, you can get in contact with your nearest practice at home and ask them.

How do I change doctors?

To change to a local GP, you can do it online via the NHS or Patient Access app, or by popping in to your local doctor’s surgery. If you just go in, you can usually fill in a registration form and they will transfer your medical record for you.

If you apply via the app, you need to first log in to Patient Access account. Select the account where your name is located, and then My GP Practice. Here you should see an option to select “change my GP practice”. Further guidance can be found on Patient Access Support.

Here's how to change doctors while at uni
Source: Canva

How long does it take to change GP?

Once you make a request to a change practices, it usually takes a few days for your medical record to be transferred. It’s always best to check with your new GP how long they expect it to take.

Can I get a doctor’s appointment online?

If you don’t want to change doctors, you may still be able to get a doctors appointment online with your normal GP. However, not all doctor’s surgeries offer online appointments so it’s best you check. This may influence whether or not you need to change doctors to a local practice.

One way to check is by using the Patient Access portal to try to book an appointment. You’ll be able to see whether they have any ‘online bookable’ appointments available. Alternatively just call them and ask.

How do I find a doctors surgery near me?

The best way to find a local GP near you is through the NHS site – Find a GP. You can search for nearby practices using your postcode, and see which ones are accepting new patients and have online registration.

University Health Service

Beyond thinking about how to change doctors, you can also make use of your university’s health service. They often work in partnership with NHS, with a focus on providing student-led care. You can also use your university health service for any confidential issues you want to discuss or if you need further help with changing GP practice.

NHS registration for international students

You’re eligible to use NHS services if you’re a full-time international student studying for over 6 months in the UK. You will most likely have already paid the immigrant health surcharge during the visa application. This means the next step is to register with a GP practice near you. This can be done using the Find a GP online search, or going into a doctors surgery nearby. You will also have access to NHS hospital treatment, and other support and healthcare.

For other support on international student resources, check out our dedicated page.