In October 2017, the Department of Health introduced changes to its system for charging overseas visitors for secondary healthcare. These changes expanded the scope of charging to, for example, care provided in the community by both NHS and non-NHS services including charities, and made upfront charging mandatory.
After a number of charities, organisations and grassroots campaigners raised their voices in the lead up to and after the introduction of these latest changes as a result of the harm that they will cause, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) quietly announced a formal review of them in December.
While Medact submitted to the review using testimonies and case studies collected from our members who are health professionals, we believe that the review is dangerously limited. As a result, we coordinated an Open Letter that we sent to the DHSC signed by over 30 health, destitution and migrants’ rights charities and organisations.
We are primarily concerned that the timing and scope of the review – limited to evidence of the impacts on patients and public health of the only recently introduced Amendments – would provide a falsely reassuring picture. We are particularly concerned about its impacts on public health as a result of deterring those requiring treatment from seeking it due to the fear of both being charged and the impacts of this on their immigration status.
Read a piece by Medact member Dr Gordon Bruce, ‘Healthcare charging – unethical practice, unacceptable outcomes’
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