BMA concern on charging non-UK residents review

The BMA has called on the government to do more for people whose asylum claim had been refused but could not return home and needed urgent treatment.

Speaking as the government published its review on charging non-UK residents, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, BMA head of science and ethics, said:  ‘We believe no-one whose asylum claim has been refused should be turned down for care which cannot be delayed, and which clinicians determine they need. Doing so affects our ability to control communicable disease and ultimately puts additional pressure on the NHS, particularly on emergency services.'

The review on charging non-UK residents for access to NHS services in England concluded that there should be no significant change in primary care.

This would mean that GP discretion to determine registration to access free NHS primary medical care services would be maintained.

The principle that GPs may charge non-residents as private patients would remain.

The review was undertaken by both the DoH and Home Office and started work in 2007. Proposals will be consulted on in the autumn.

They include:

  • Asylum seekers whose claim has been refused but who are being supported because there are recognised barriers to their return home should be exempt from charges,
  • Unaccompanied children, including those in local authority care, should be exempt from charges,
  • UK residents may be absent from the country for up to six months in a year before being considered for charges for NHS hospital treatment, and,
  • Visitors will normally be refused permission to enter or remain in the UK if they have significant NHS debts.

  • What do you think of the proposals?

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