Government response to consultations on restricting migrants’ access to healthcare

In December 2013, the Government published Sustaining services, ensuring fairness.Government response to the consultation on migrant access and financial contribution to NHS provision in England.

Background

On 3 July 2013, the Home Office and the Department of Health launched parallel consultations on access to free health care for migrants.

The Home Office consultation document covers the UK while the Department of Health consultation document includes additional questions on implementation of the proposed changes in England.

The Government issued a press release announcing the proposals on 3 July:

‘The consultation proposes:

    • stopping those visiting for less than six months from getting free access to GP surgeries by introducing charging, as currently used in hospitals; and
    • a new registration and tracking system for chargeable visitors before they first join a GP surgery – possibly linked to the NHS number, alongside better checks to enforce charges for care in both hospitals and sustainable primary care.

The consultation aims to create a system that is fair for everyone without denying treatment to those whose health is in immediate danger or a risk to public health.

Proposals also include:

    • improving the way the NHS claims back EEA visitors’ treatment from their home countries; and
    • giving expatriate UK citizens access to free NHS care after they have paid up to 10 years of National Insurance contributions.’

The deadline for both consultation documents was 28 August 2013.

Responding to publication, Leigh Daynes, Executive Director of Doctors of the World UK said: ‘Discriminating between patients goes against medical ethics and violates the Oath doctors take.’

Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council, said: ‘These proposals will affect our most vulnerable clients, refused asylum seekers who are often destitute, unable or too scared to return to their home countries.’

Overseas visitors and access to health care was set up to help people respond to the proposals and share information.

Doctors of the World’s response

ILPA (Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association) response

Migrants’ Rights Network’s response

Refugee Council’s response

Rights of Women’s response