If someone is suddenly caught ill or has an accident then we should do all we can do to help. If you visit other countries (we’ve all heard the stories where wallets are examined before treatment is applied) typical questions before treatment is given are:
- Do you have insurance?
- What’s your health policy number?
- Have you got an EHIC card?
- Can you afford to pay – do you have any credit cards?
In my view our national institution the NHS who provide free treatment for all regardless of their circumstances should not be abused.
So what is happening?
The government as a part of the Immigration ACT in 2014 introduced guidance around implementing overseas visitor hospital charging, technically a framework for the NHS to charge for treatment in the UK. There is some confusion as to how charges will be applied.
A summary extract from the guidance document begins to detail how charges are meant to be levied. “A relevant NHS body must only make and recover charges when it determines that the patient is not entitled to free NHS hospital care. The obligation to undertake reasonable enquiries is an important part of the duty to make and recover charges from overseas visitors, and:
- ensures that patients who are not ordinarily resident in the UK are identified
- assesses liability for charges in accordance with the Charging Regulations
- charges those liable to pay in accordance with the Charging Regulations
- recovers payment from those liable to pay”
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said “The Immigration Bill will stop migrants abusing public services to which they are not entitled, reduce the pull factors which draw illegal immigrants to the UK and make it easier to remove people who should not be here”.
These things take time to evolve but recently the press has had a field day drawing attention to health tourists. Yet another administrative burden, or is it a way of protecting the NHS?
I personally am convinced that these controls are vital and managed by support staff not the nurses and doctors. Our health professionals should be focussing on treatment not the checking the patients residency status. What do you think?
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Thanks for reading