Consultation on migrant access to NHS and health care announced

A consultation on how migrants access health services has been announced by the government. The declared aim of the consultation is to 'respond to longstanding public concern that the current rules regulating access to those services are ... too generous.'

The full details of the consultation are available from the Home Office website. The proposals have already drawn heavy criticism owing to its wide-ranging and severe implications. The main proposals are as follows:

  • To introduce fees for all health services, including GP appointments, for non-residents. In effect this would limit free at point of use health care to permanent residents and citizens only.
  • To introduce a new qualifying residence test for all non-EEA nationals using NHS services to decide who should pay charges or not.
  • Allowing temporary migrants to ‘enrol’ for NHS services by paying a levy before arrival to the UK. The proposed amount of this levy is £200 per year of leave granted. Those who can’t or don’t pay the levy are then required to take out private health care insurance.
  • Ensure charges to short-term migrants for hospital care are properly applied.

The consultation closes on 28 August after which ministers will consider their response and any changes to the system.

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