The University Health Service is staffed by doctors and nurses who understand the medical problems of students. The doctors are General Practitioners (GPs) who are able to help with most health problems. In Australia, the GP is the first doctor you consult and all GPs are used to seeing patients with many different conditions including skin disorders, gynaecological problems and contraception. If you need more tests or treatment the doctor may refer you to a specialist either at a public hospital clinic or in private practice. To see a specialist you must have a referral letter from your GP and make an appointment. Payment may be required for private specialists, but treatment at a public hospital is fully covered by your overseas student health cover (provided the condition is not "pre-existing" during the first 12 months you are in Australia).
All consultations are strictly confidential
For medical emergencies eg. severe pain, difficulty breathing or severe injury, you can go to the nearest Emergency Department at the nearest public hospital. Emergency Departments are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The nearest public hospital to the University (Callaghan Campus) is the Mater Calvary Hospital, Waratah. The John Hunter Hospital is also close by at Rankin Park. Gosford Hospital is the closest public hospital for the Ourimbah campus students.
In an emergency you may call an ambulance on 000 to take you to hospital. This is covered by OSHC but only for genuine emergencies.
If your child is very unwell do not wait to see the GP. If you live in the Newcastle area it is best to take your seriously ill child as soon as possible to the John Hunter Hospital as this hospital specialises in paediatrics. If you are unsure about your child's health and wish to speak to a paediatric nurse you can ring the Kids Kare Help Line between 2.30 pm and 10:45 pm daily. Phone 4921 2800. A helpful website is www.kaleidoscope.org.au go to Parents for information on childhood illnesses which are available in other languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese.
Special Consideration for Exams
When you are sick on the day of an exam or assessment, it is advisable to see a doctor that day. If you apply for special consideration, you will require a doctor's certificate (which cannot be backdated), covering the day of the exam.
You may also apply for special consideration on the basis of illness at the time of preparation for an exam. In this case it is also necessary to be assessed by a doctor while you are sick, not afterwards.
If you are given a prescription for medication by a doctor, you need to take this to a pharmacy (chemist shop). Pharmacies are found in most shopping centres. The medication will be sold to you by the pharmacy. If your medicine costs more than the price set by the government (currently $33.90) your OSHC will refund up to $50 for each item. You must get a receipt from the chemist and you always pay the first $33.90. Many medications cost less than this so you will not get any refund for these.
Your doctor may also sometimes suggest that you buy medicine over the counter without a prescription. This is because it is cheaper for you and for some things a prescription is not needed.
If you are taking medicines when you arrive here, (eg asthma inhalers, acne treatment, birth control pills, or antidepressants), we can prescribe more for you. You need to make an appointment with a GP for this. It helps if you bring along your existing medication or prescription and any specialist’s letters or results. Medication available here may be slightly different from the one originally prescribed, and sometimes you may need to see a specialist before getting a prescription.
Fees and Billing
Most consultations for international students with Overseas Student Health Cover are fully covered. For students with OSHC Worldcare, Medibank Private, ahm or NIB the Health Service is able to bill the insurance company directly, so you do not need to pay, but there may be costs for medications and vaccines. As well, if you need to see a specialist or have pathology tests or X-rays, part of the cost may not be covered by OSHC.
For more information, see Medical Cover.