Back to top
***navigation.shtml*** ***pubwork_head_pic.shtml***

health and medical info

It's probably a good idea to have some basic health and medical knowledge before travelling to a foreign country

First let me remind you that I am no expert on medical or legal practices of the United Kingdom. I can only inform you what I have discovered from personal experience and my own research. Always check for official guidelines.

Quick jump to information on:

Reciprocal Health Care
Safe sex
Travel Insurance
General Safety

For most of you, the UK shouldn't be too much of a leap from your home country when it comes to health standards. If you are a citizen of a commonwealth country you will receive the same duty of care in a hospital as you would expect in your home country. For those of you worrying that an unfortunate accident may cost you hundreds of pounds in medical costs, or if you just catch a cold and need to speak to a GP, you can relax...somewhat.

The UKs National Health Service is not the most exciting website to explore but it's probably worth visiting at least once so you know what kind of information is available to you. NHS Health and Medical info

If you're travelling to the UK either to start a working holiday or just as a tourist, do yourself a favour and put this telephone number in to your mobile right now 0845 4647it's the NHS national advice line. (non-emergencies) Hopefully you never have to call it but if you do, there it is - Unfortunately it's not a free call number (nor is any number starting with 0845)

For Emergency services, ie Police, Fire and Ambulance dial 999 and yes this number is a free call.

The United Kingdom has a reciprocal health care arrangement with many countries including, Australia and New Zealand. This means that you can expect the same level of treatment in the UK as would expect back home. Not just emergency care.
For the full list of countries participating in the reciprocal health care agreement click here

-note- Non-emergency dental treatment is not covered by the reciprocal agreement.

For those of you not in this list don't panic. The UK offers free emergency treatment in the Accident & Emergency department of the hospital to everyone, regardless of nationality or how long you've been in the country. So if you break an arm falling of a skateboard like my South African friend Bob did, you'll be repaired at no cost except perhaps the cost of associated medication.

-note- If you are transferred to a part of the hospital other than A & E then there may be costs to pay.

However you will be treated for free at a hospital or by a GP if you are considered to be 'ordinarily resident' in the UK, that is for all terms and purposes you work and live in the UK - you must be employed to fit this category. For you females, this means you will also be eligible to receive family planning advice and access to the contraceptive pill through a GP (family doctor)

For all this health and medical information, plus more regarding overseas visitors to the UK I highly suggest you check out the UKs Department of Health website

Safe Sex

The United Kingdom has an alarming rate of sexually transmitted infections and diseases. Did you know "As many as 70% of women and 50% of men who have an STI, don't show any symptoms" and "There are an estimated 20,000 HIV positive people in the UK who don't know they've got HIV"

Don't run the risk, if you get lucky and you're engaging in sexual activity, make sure you put 'it' on, before you get it on. More info on fun-n-safe sex check out and take their quiz to find out how much you know about safe sexual practices.

First aid box

"He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything"

Arabic Proverb



You should also find out if you require any shots for Hepatitis A, typhoid, influenza etc. For these I say 'speak to your doctor'. It's a good idea to have a tetanus, rabies, and flu booster before you travel abroad anyway but your doctor will be able to give you all the health and medical info you need to stay bug free whilst abroad.

-example- June 07 I was attacked by a monkey in Phuket Thailand. She was after my nuts, peanuts that is, and she could have taken my whole thumb had I not managed to drop my bag of nuts (don't laugh) I had to go to Phuket Hospital and get a rabies and tetanus shot. It wasn't the cost of treatment or the time it took from being bitten by the monkey in the jungle to being seen by the nurse 6 hours later, it was more the worry that I had contracted some horrible disease that I could have done without.

Just like the scouts say "Be prepared", after all you don't wanna get sick do you?

Travel insurance

I'll keep it nice and simple for you - If you don't take out even the most basic travel insurance, you're running a risk that could seriously screw up your overseas experience and leave you with a debt to pay for a very long time to come.

And on the other hand, travel insurance will cost about $2 a day, which doesn't sound like much but that adds up to over $700 per year of cover of which you have to pay in one hit. Yet another expense for something you probably wont use.

Is that confusing enough for you?

I've got more to say on this subject. For a more in depth run-down on my thoughts on travel insurance click here
Health and Medical info - Travel Insurance

General Safety

The UK in general is a safe country in my opinion, as are the other countries in Europe. However terrible things do happen to travellers just like you every year, whether it be petty crime or in the more extreme cases, acts of violence, rape and murder.

I was in Dubrovnik, Croatia the day police recovered the body of 21 year old Australian backpacker Britt Lapthorne from a bay not far from the Latin nightclub where she had last been seen two weeks previously. Being there made it a lot more tragic and reminded me that these things do happen to happy adventurous travellers just like you and me. She also reminds me a lot of my sister who is currently working and living in the UK.

The medieval investigative procedures carried out by the Croatian Police along with Britt's disappearance resulted in unimaginable trauma and stress for her distraught family. Whether Britt met with foul play or not is irrelevant, no-one should come to harm whilst overseas.

for those of you unfamiliar with Britt Lapthorne click here

So look after yourselves and your friends. Don't let your friends go home with strangers, (including taxi drivers) and do not drink and drive. Be wary of attracting the wrong kind of attention and keep an eye on your drinks (drink spiking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK) know your alcohol limits and do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of.

Just be safe! Get it?

The health and medical knowledge you gain here and on the sites I have linked to will not only benefit yourself, but also the people you will work, live and travel with whilst on your working holiday. So although this isn't the most exciting topic right now, this information might come in handy at some time or another. 

Full of all the health and medical information you can handle?

click 'back' to find out just how expensive the UK can be, or
click 'next' to learn about mobile phones, calling cards and other travel related stuff