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At the heart of general practice since 1960

DH to push ahead with plans for GPs to record patients' migration status

The Department of Health has rubberstamped plans for GP practices to check and record the migration status of new patients when they register.

The DH will also go ahead with bringing in charges for overseas patients for all primary care services, except GP and nurse consultations, but will 'take a phased approach to implementing this over a longer time scale'.

As previously reported, this would include charging for things like blood tests and lung function tests.

In its response to a consultation regarding NHS health tourism, published today, the DH said that 'primary care has an important role in establishing chargeable status and charging overseas visitors and migrants'.

It added: 'We believe that this starts with being able to determine whether a patient is chargeable when they register at a GP practice and that putting in place the processes for charging for primary care services will take longer to implement.'

Following this it will look at changing the rules for qualifing for free prescriptions, it said, and would then 'work with the BMA GPC to consider how we extend charging to primary medical services so that overseas visitors and migrants... will have to pay for these services, (excluding GP/nurse consultations)'.

The DH said 'the pace of this work will need to take into account contractual amendments and additional legislative changes'.

But GP leaders have previously warned against the plans which they feared could have potential public health ramifications if patients are deterred from seeking healthcare.

Responding, the DH said it would 'ensure that the implementation of these proposals mitigates public health concerns and operational challenges as far as possible and we will work with colleagues at Public Health England in particular to achieve this'.

It added that the decision to keep GP and nurse consultations free of charge was 'principally based on recognition that they are best placed to routinely monitor and assess several conditions that might have an impact on the public's health'.

GP leaders have also warned practices don't have the capacity to handle the additional workload of becoming 'border guards' for the NHS.

The DH document said 'some professional bodies and GP practices were concerned that GP practice staff would find it too burdensome to assess new patients' chargeable status or apply charges and recover money for providing services that become chargeable'. It noted that 'this was especially so in the face of rising workloads and if there was to be no remuneration for doing so'.

But it added: 'The Government is very clear – we do not expect the NHS medical professions to act as border guards. All staff providing NHS-funded healthcare do, however, have a duty to protect vital services from misuse and ensure that taxpayers' money is spent wisely.'

Under the Immigration Act 2014 only UK residents with ‘indefinite leave to remain’ are entitled to free healthcare, and hospital trusts do retroactively charge ineligible patients for their treatment. But in an announcement today, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said that going forward trusts would ask for payment upfront instead.

He said: 'We have no problem with overseas visitors using our NHS – as long as they make a fair contribution, just as the British taxpayer does.

'So today we are announcing plans to change the law which means those who aren’t eligible for free care will be asked to pay upfront for non-urgent treatment.

'We aim to recover up to £500 million a year by the middle of this Parliament – money that can then be reinvested in patient care.'

Primary care services to become chargable under DH plans

  • physiotherapy
  • blood tests
  • lung function tests
  • prescriptions
  • dental treatment
  • eye care costs

GP and nurse consultations will be excluded from charging, as will testing and treatment for infectious or sexually transmitted diseases.

Source: Department of Health

 

Readers' comments (10)

  • More unfunded work for GPs who are best placed?What utter BS.

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  • This is all total crap.

    Why can't some of the "yes men" at the DOH grow a backbone and stand up to Hunt and his "lunacy"??

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  • so we have to determine that the patient is 'chargeable', but then see them for a free appointment? who makes up this stuff? Please walk briskly to the nearest WIC

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  • Cobblers

    "But it added: 'The Government is very clear – we do not expect the NHS medical professions to act as border guards. All staff providing NHS-funded healthcare do, however, have a duty to protect vital services from misuse and ensure that taxpayers' money is spent wisely."

    So let's make that doubly clear we don't want you to be a border guard but then we do.

    God you couldn't make it up. Pure 1984.

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  • Anonymous Locum GP

    i took this from the government backed NHS choices site

    'Principles and values that guide the NHS

    The NHS was created out of the ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth. When it was launched by the then minister of health, Aneurin Bevan, on July 5 1948, it was based on three core principles:

    that it meet the needs of everyone

    that it be free at the point of delivery

    that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay

    These three principles have guided the development of the NHS over more than 60 years and remain at its core.'

    i'm not an expert but to me it looks like if we follow this edict we are betraying the principles of the NHS and by definition the NHS will no longer exist.



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  • just don't do it, don't check their immigration status if you con't want to. they're not going to check this policy is so hamfisted

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  • Aliens sitting in DoH need to be deported or exiled as they have no clue where they are, where they are headed for and why. Migrants at least have an aim and purpose. DoH are in England but they seem to think they are in Cuckooland.

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  • Why is RCGP not screaming from the roof tops? Why should we be the only service not to be expected to be paid for doing our work? Free from GPs? except we're paying our staff to provide the care, denying our patients the appointments.

    To quote 'principally based on recognition that they are best placed to routinely monitor and assess several conditions that might have an impact on the public's health'.

    So lots of work but hey they shouldn't expect payment for it. Could someone please just finish off NHS GP so we can get some degree of respect and self-worth back. Let Whitehall see how much we really are worth when they start paying appropriately for everything we actually do.

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  • The masters and the peasants / animal farm. IMHO the DOH are the former the RCGP the latter.

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  • gp service free because the are self employed and can work for nothing. nurse is employed by gp so he can pay her extra from pocket which has unlimited amount of money!!!
    we are best placed to vacuum clean patients house when we visit them and room is dirty.

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