Any non-EEA citizen who is not ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK is liable for charging in secondary care, with some notable exemptions relating to membership to specific groups and specific services. However, eligibility for free primary care is unaffected by these regulations, in fact, GPs have complete discretion to register whomever they wish.
If there are any difficulties in accessing Primary Care Doctors of the World run a clinic and advocacy programme in east London that provides medical care, information and practical support to vulnerable people, helping them access the healthcare they need. They also provide health professionals with training and support.
A more lengthy discussion of the rules relating to access to healthcare and the implication for individual and public health can be found in the Migrant’s Rights Network blog and briefing. Guidance for health professionals on entitlement can be found in the BMA’s Access to health care for asylum seekers and refused asylum seekers and for patients the Mayor of London’s Leaflet: How can I get medical help in London?
Despite this there remains confusion on the front line with regard to entitlement and there is evidence that even those that should have free, unencumbered access to services are not utilising them. From a starting point of a policy that has had far reaching health implications, the government intends to introduce further restrictions on migrants’ access to the NHS.