NHS system for charging migrants to access treatment ‘unfit for purpose’ – IPPR report
The NHS charging scheme for migrants is “unfit for purpose”, a think tank has said.
The charging rules “deter people from accessing healthcare, lead to delays in treatment, distract NHS professionals from their care roles and apply large bills to patients with no prospect of paying them”, according to a report by the IPPR.
It said that the system for charging migrants for healthcare in England has become “increasingly stringent” in recent years.
The latest IPPR report highlights how anyone not “ordinarily resident” in the UK is charged 150% of the NHS national tariff for hospital care, unless certain exemptions apply.
The IPPR said that the main groups affected by these rules are non-EU short-term visitors and people living in England without immigration status.
The authors of the report wrote: “The current system of NHS charging is not working. As they stand, the charging rules deter people from accessing healthcare, lead to delays in treatment, distract NHS professionals from their care roles and apply large bills to patients with no prospect of paying them.”
A change in definition of the term “ordinary residence”, to one which includes all residents regardless of immigration status, would help to improve the current system, they concluded.
This would be the “most effective alternative to the current system”, the authors said, adding that this could “reduce delays in treatment, improve medical outcomes and ultimately help achieve the UK’s commitment to health coverage for all”.
Marley Morris, IPPR associate director, said: “The current system for NHS charging in England is unfit for purpose. Under these rules, many long-term residents are left facing extortionate bills for receiving critical treatment. These rules are debilitating for patients, stressful to enforce for doctors and nurses, and harmful to public health.
“Our proposals would ensure that all residents, regardless of their immigration status, would be able to access free secondary healthcare at the point of use, provided they were not a short-term visitor.”
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