The GPC has agreed for GP practices to record the migration status of patients upon registration as part of the contract changes coming in from April.
Under the deal, GP practices will be reimbursed via a £5m recurrent funding stream for the additional workload it will create.
It comes as the Department of Health announced a range of measures to tackle ‘health tourism’ yesterday, including asking hospitals to charge overseas patients upfront, and longer term plans to introduce charging for primary care services excluding GP and nurse consultations.
NHS Employers said practices ‘will be required to manually record that the patient holds either a non-UK issued EHIC or a S1 form in the patient’s medical record and then send the form and supplementary questions to NHS Digital (for non-UK issued EHIC cards) or the Overseas Healthcare Team (for S1 forms) via email or post.’
It added: ‘New recurrent investment of £5 million will be added to global sum allocation, without the out-of-hours deduction applied, to support this requirement.’
It also said NHS England will work with GPC and practice IT providers to develop a method for automating the registration and submission process.
Previously, GP leaders have warned that asking GPs to become ‘border guards’ for the NHS would be too onerous, but commenting on the contract deal, GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul defended the changes.
He said: ‘Claiming back funding from overseas countries for hospital services when their citizens use the NHS is nothing new and has been common practice for many years.
‘We have ensured that the minor changes this year will allow overseas patients who hold an EHIC card or S1 form to self-declare at registration so that reception staff do not become border guards, and that practices are reimbursed for associated administration.’
But he added that it is the GPC’s view that ‘claiming back funding from overseas countries for hospital services will generate relatively small amounts of extra money and will not address the incredible funding pressure on GP services’.
The Department of Health will provide leaflets for patients to explain the rules around entitlements to healthcare for overseas patients.
Last week a report by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee said GPs ’could do more to help the NHS’ in recovering costs from overseas patients and yesterday the DH confirmed that it is pushing ahead with asking GP practices to check the migration status of new patients on registration.