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GPs go forth

Ministers mull GP charges for migrants

The Government is considering charging foreign nationals for access to primary care, a health minister has announced.

Earl Howe said in response to a parliamentary question on GP practice registration last Wednesday that the Government was considering extending the charges for non-EU nationals, which are currently levied on those accessing NHS hospitals, to cover primary care.

He said: ‘Provision exists within primary legislation to allow the introduction of a system of NHS charges covering treatment for GP services.

‘As part of the department’s review of charging of overseas visitors for NHS care, consideration is being given to whether to extend charging for NHS treatment to primary care.’

He added: ‘No decision has yet been taken on any option and this will also be subject to consultation across a number of related matters.’

The potential changes come as part of wider discussions about who should have access to NHS treatment.

Last Sunday, Home Secretary Theresa May told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the Government was looking into restricting access to public services, including hospitals, for migrants who arrive here without a job.

Readers' comments (9)

  • It is surely not beyond the wit of man to require that medical insurance with an approved supplier is in place as a condition of issuing a visa to travel to the UK for the migrants that they government wishes to cover through these arrangements. We then avoid the potential accusations of being inhumane and refusing treatment when needed unless the person can pay.

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  • Wasn't there a case recently where a practice was *obliged* to register a family of failed asylum seekers who had been removed on the insistence of the PCT - who then did not support the unfortunate practice concerned?
    How will this be policed or enforced?
    Any time a GP practice reports a blatant case of illegal immigration, TPTB ignore the problem - so practices give up.
    Or will it just be a case of fining GP practices for failing to meet yet another top-down imposition of responsibility without either support or powers of enforcement?

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  • why should the already pushed tax payer have to pay for foreign nationals.we would NEVER get free treatment abroad and same the same should apply in reverse-logical?

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  • All EEC countries have the equivalent Form e111. If a UK citizen see a doctor anywhere in the EEC they are charged and can claim back on return to the UK.
    So why can't we charge?
    As for any other overseas visitor then I agree that the issuing of a visa should only occur if the applicant can show they have the appropriate health insurance.
    For too long the NHS and General Practice have been sponged on by patients who can afford to buy an air fare to the UK and therefore should be able to afford the health insurance.
    It is even a prerequisite when a UK citizen books a an airfare., the have health insurance.

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  • Peter Swinyard

    Am I alone in my cynical assumption that we will be forced to charge foreign visitors, then the money we charge will be clawed back by the NHS as they will assume that we are here anyway sitting around waiting for something to do - and that there will be a notional withholding "to reduce paperwork" whether you have seen a foreigner or not....

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  • And, who will be collecting and accounting for the money?

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  • We've just been told to register a foreign national family on a 12 month visitor's visa and provide all NHS care as they are intending to stay for more than 6 months.

    It's madness. I work over 50 hours, pay 40% tax to fund free Heath care for people who set their foot in the country yesterday so some PC bigot can feel better about himself. In the meantime I'm telling a local mom her daughter can't have a tonsillectomy because our PCT gas run out of money to spend on such thing.

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  • I have always felt uncomfortable about providing primary care to some one not entitled to secondary care. We have a patient at the moment with a platelet count of 8 (which developed while in this country)who has been refused secondary care unless she pays for it .She refuses to pay and we are left unsupported. Presumably when she collapses they will decide she is an emergency and treat

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  • I assume the minister has figures as to how much this is costing the NHS and also how much it will cost to enforce & any anticipated saving? Where are the numbers? Policy by anecdote is bad policy.

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