Health care for students at Keele and while travelling, information on sexual health and common illnesses

The NHS has created a Student Health App that has health information specifically aimed at students. You can find it in your app store and read more about it on the NHS website.

We've also included some information about the most common student illnesses and answered our most common health questions below.

Registering with a GP and Dentist

GPs and Emergency Treatment


A GP (general practitioner) is a local, family doctor who provides the main point of contact for general healthcare. If you're living away from home during term, we would advise registering with a local GP so you can access health care quickly while at Keele. You can find local GPs by using the NHS 'Find a GP' search. Consider how far away the GP is, how easily you can get there, and their opening hours. You may prefer to use Keele Practice, which is situated on campus in the Horwood area. This is the nearest practice for those living on campus and their GPs are used to seeing students and writing letters for the University.


If you become unwell  and you're not registered locally, you can still contact your nearest practice to ask for emergency treatment for 14 days - after that you will have to register as a temporary resident or permanent patient. You can read about registering for temporary medical care here. 


You can also visit an NHS urgent treatment centre for minor injuries and illnesses. You can find your local centre using this NHS search.



You don’t have to register with a dentist in the same way as a GP, you can just contact a dental practice to check if you can make an appointment, However, if you would like to receive treatment on the NHS you will need to check if the dental practice is taking on new NHS patients - you may need to join a waiting list or pay for private treatment.


You can search for a local dentist on the NHS website.

Health Care on Campus

Keele Practice is the nearest GP surgery for those living on campus. It is situated in the Horwood area.


Well Pharmacy is in the row of shops outside the Students' Union building and can also provide some medical advice as well as filling your prescriptions.


Keele students can now access the Health Assured Student Assistance Programme (SAP). This service offers students access to support via a 24 hour confidential helpline, the ‘My Healthy Advantage’ app, and online portal too. The services include mental health support from trained counsellors and advisors who are ready to listen and provide help on issues including emotional and physical health, mental health, counselling, relationships, managing stress and anxiety, money issues, and legal information. More information about Health Assured is on the Keele website.


For mental health support, you can visit Keele's counselling service, More information about mental health support is on our 'Mental Health' page.

Help with Health Costs

Most medical treatment is free, but there are some expenses that you might have to pay for - including prescriptions, dental treatment, sight tests and glasses. 


Help for health costs is available to those on a low income, including students. If you are here on a visa, health benefits are not classed as ‘public funds’, so your immigration status will not be affected if you claim and receive any help with your health costs.


To apply for help with health costs, you should complete an HC1 form. You can find the form and details about the NHS Low Income Scheme on the NHS website.


Your application will normally be assessed within 18 working days of your form being received. If you are eligible, the NHS will then send you an HC2 or HC3 certificate. An HC2 certificate gives you full help with health costs and an HC3 certificate gives you some financial help towards the cost. You should get your certificate within 4 weeks of applying.


If you paid for treatment before you applied to the NHS Low Income Scheme, you might be able to claim a refund within 3 months of the date you paid the charge. For prescriptions, you need to ask for an NHS receipt form FP57 when you pay - you cannot get one later. For other costs, you can complete an HC5 form. You can find the refund form and information on the NHS Low Income Scheme webpage.



Pre-payment Certificate


If you don’t qualify for help with prescriptions you can buy a pre-payment certificate (PPC) to save you money if you need regular prescriptions of at least two items. You can read about pre-payment certificates on the NHS website.

What can I do if I'm too unwell to study?

If you're struggling with an assignment, you can submit an Exceptional Circumstances claim to ask for an extension or further assessment attempt. Make sure you submit a claim before a written assignment is due, or by the deadline your School has set for exam periods. More information is on our Exceptional Circumstances page.


If your illness is more long-term you may want to consider taking a Leave of Absence, either for a few weeks or until the next academic year. You can read about the Leave of Absence process on the University's webpage.

Sexual Health

The nearest sexual health clinic is in the Ryecroft Centre on Broad Street, Newcastle-under-Lyme.



The NHS has a guide to various forms of contraception to help you decide what's best for you.

ASK has free condoms and lube in our office next to the door - you don't need to make any excuses to come in and grab some!


Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are diseases passed on from one person to another through unprotected sex (sex without a condom) or sometimes through genital contact. You can get tested for STIs at a sexual health clinic, GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinic or GP surgery.



Chlamydia is one of the most common STIs in the UK. Most people who have chlamydia don’t notice any symptoms and won’t know they have the infection. Otherwise, symptoms may include pain when you urinate, unusual discharge and, in women, bleeding between periods or after sex. Diagnosing chlamydia is easily done with a urine test or a swab of the affected area. Keep an eye out for B-Clear who carry out regular screenings here at Keele. You can also collect a postal screening test from ASK. Chlamydia is easily treated with antibiotics, but can lead to serious long-term health problems if it's left untreated.


Genital warts

Genital warts are small fleshy growths, bumps or skin changes that appear on or around your genital or anal area. They are the result of a viral skin infection caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). You don't need to have penetrative sex to pass the infection on because HPV is spread by skin-to-skin contact. Several treatments are available, such as creams and cryotherapy (freezing the warts).


Genital herpes

Genital herpes is a long-term condition caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). After you have become infected, the virus remains dormant (inactive) for most of the time. There are often few or no initial symptoms. However, certain triggers can activate the virus, causing outbreaks of painful blisters on your genitals and the surrounding areas. There's no cure for genital herpes, but the symptoms can usually be effectively controlled using antiviral medicines. 



Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection that can cause an unusual discharge from your vagina or penis, and pain when urinating. Gonorrhoea can be easily diagnosed through a simple swab test and treated with antibiotics. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious long-term health problems and infertility.



Syphilis is a bacterial infection that causes a painless but highly infectious sore on your genitals or sometimes around the mouth. The sore lasts two to six weeks before disappearing. Secondary symptoms, such as a skin rash and sore throat, then develop. These may disappear within a few weeks, after which you have a symptom-free phase. If diagnosed early, syphilis can be easily treated with antibiotics, usually penicillin injections. But if it is left to progress untreated, syphilis can go on to cause serious conditions such as stroke, paralysis, blindness or death.



HIV is a virus most commonly caught by having unprotected sex or sharing infected needles to inject drugs. The virus weakens your ability to fight infections and cancer. AIDS is the final stage of HIV infection when your body can no longer fight life-threatening infections. There's no cure for HIV but there are treatments to enable most people with the virus to live a long and healthy life.



Trichomoniasis is a condition caused by a tiny parasite called Trichomonas vaginalis. Women may have soreness and itching around the vagina and a change in vaginal discharge. Men may experience pain after urination and ejaculation. Most men and women are treated with an antibiotic called metronidazole, which is very effective.


Pubic lice

Pubic lice ('crabs') are tiny blood-sucking insects that live in coarse human body hair, most commonly pubic hair. They cause itching and red spots. They can usually be successfully treated with insecticide medicines available over the counter in most pharmacies, or from a GP or GUM clinic.



Scabies is a contagious skin condition in which the main symptom is intense itching. It's caused by tiny mites that burrow into the skin. Scabies isn't only spread through sexual contact, but also through skin-to-skin contact for long periods of time with someone who is infected. It's treated with cream containing insecticides, which kills the scabies mite.




If you think you might be pregnant, the most important thing to do us get a test done as soon as possible and find out for sure.  You can get a pregnancy test from the pharmacy on campus or Keele Health Centre or your local family planning clinic and off-campus pharmacies.


If you want confidential advice you can contact ASK or NUPAS (National Unplanned Pregnancy Advisory Service). 


Breast Awareness

Knowing what’s normal for you and understanding what changes to look for can aid early detection of breast cancer. Check yourself regularly, in a way that is comfortable for you. For more information, take a look at Cancer Research UK’s ‘Detecting Breast Cancer’.


Testicular Cancer

Testicular cancer can nearly always be treated successfully if it is found early. Early detection means simpler, more effective treatment with fewer side-effects. Be body aware: do a regular self-checks in the bath or shower, or soon afterwards. For more information, take a look at Cancer Research UK’s ‘Finding Testicular Cancer Early’.


Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic Shock Syndrome is a rare illness and can affect men, women and children. With early diagnosis, toxic shock syndrome can be successfully treated, however out of the small number of people who fall ill each year, 2-3 people die from TSS. Know the facts.


If you have any symptoms of meningitis contact NHS Direct on  0845 4647, contact your GP, or the Accident and Emergency Department on 01782 715444. Call 999 in the case of an emergency.


Call Security to tell them if you live on campus and are waiting for an ambulance. They will guide the ambulance to your address.


Security 33004 (internal)     Emergency 888 (internal)


Teenagers and young adults are particularly at risk of meningitis. This is because:


  • One in four 15 – 19-year old's carry these bacteria in the back of their throats, compared to one in ten of the UK population.
  • You can be a carrier without becoming ill and in most cases, it will help boost your natural immunity. In an age group where more people are carrying the bacteria, more disease will occur. 
  • Meningococcal bacteria are passed from person to person by coughing, sneezing and intimate kissing, increased social interaction in this age group means that the bacteria can be passed on more easily.
  • University students can be more vulnerable due to living in more cramped housing or halls of residence. In many cases young people come together from all over the country - and indeed the world - to live in one place and can be exposed to bacteria and viruses their bodies have not met before. This is why so many new students get “freshers’ flu”.
  • 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. 
  • When students go off to university, it is often the first time they are living away from their parents and, more often than not, their own health and wellbeing is not a priority for them. With no parents to keep an eye on their health, meningitis can get missed. It is vital that someone always knows if you are feeling unwell and can check up on you.

If you think you or someone else has meningitis or septicemia get medical help immediately. Early diagnosis can be difficult - if you have had advice and are still worried, get medical help again. You can read about the symptoms on the NHS and Meningitis Now websites.


Mumps is a highly contagious viral infection that can spread rapidly among unvaccinated students. It is most recognisable by the painful swellings at the side of the face under the ears. Other symptoms of mumps include headaches, joint pain and a high temperature, which may develop a few days before the swelling.


Mumps is spread in the same way as colds and flu, through infected droplets of saliva that can be inhaled or picked up from surfaces and transferred into the mouth or nose. It's important to prevent the infection spreading to others, particularly those who haven't been vaccinated - if you have mumps, you should avoid attending classes for at least five days after your symptoms develop.


You will probably have heard of the term 'freshers' flu'! You could catch flu at any time but you are most vulnerable during the first few weeks at university while you're going out often and meeting many new people in close quarters. Save the Student has a great guide to why you might be more vulnerable to flu while at university and steps you can take to help your immune system.


The NHS also has information about flu symptoms and treatment.

Staying healthy and getting health care while travelling

There are a number sources for information with regards to your health when travelling. Take a look at the links below:

The Department Of Health

For information regarding public health, adult social care, and the NHS


MASTA Travel Well

Providing the very latest information on any health risks in the countries you are visiting, how to reduce risk and details of all vaccines and antimalarials


The Travel Doctor

Find out everything you need to know about Travel Health and avoid getting sick


Foreign & Commonwealth Office

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office is responsible for promoting British interests overseas


Travel Health

Providing travel advice, clinics, products and insurance


BBC Travel Health

For help with planning a healthy holiday, illness and injury and staying safe

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