Ensuring patients are not denied access inappropriately
With so much change it is almost inevitable that some misunderstandings and errors will occur, and it is vital to avoid denying access to care for those entitled to it. It is important to remember that asylum-seekers, victims of trafficking, EEA nationals and those from countries with bilateral healthcare agreements with the UK will retain their current entitlement to free secondary care. Those who have paid the health surcharge will also be entitled to free care, but a mechanism will be required to check whether this charge has been paid.
Those who fall outside these categories, such as undocumented migrants, are currently able to access some secondary NHS services free of charge. Treatment for some communicable diseases, such as TB and measles, is and will remain free to everyone. This is also true for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, for family planning services and for treatment under the Mental Health Act. Access to immediately necessary treatment, or urgent care, should also continue to be provided even if the patient is not entitled to free care and has no means to pay the charges. Neither the Immigration Act nor the DH proposals alter this position.
It is a time of change that will introduce significant challenges for those providing care to migrants and visitors to the UK. While proposals are finalised by government it is vital that providers are well-informed about the current position to ensure that those entitled to healthcare continue to receive it.