The Department of Health has published their response to the consultation on extending charging for overseas visitors to wider areas of the NHS. The consultation has resulted in the Department setting their aim “to not only extend charging into other areas of healthcare but to ensure that information on a person’s eligibility for free healthcare is captured at their first point of contact with the NHS, regularly verified and available to other NHS organisations where necessary.”
Key changes include requiring NHS providers to obtain charges upfront and in full before a chargeable overseas visitor can access non-urgent treatment; bringing out-of-hospital secondary care services and NHS-funded services provided by non-NHS organisations, within the services that chargeable overseas visitors will have to pay for; and removing assisted reproduction services from those that a person who has paid the immigration health surcharge can access without charge.
Changes to charging for primary care will take place through a ‘phased approach’ and the Department will work with the Royal College of GPs, the British Medical Association, and the General Dental Council to consider how to implement this. Extending charges into emergency care settings has been delayed until the DoH is able to fully consider concerns raised by the respondents and explore the feasibility of implementing the proposals. The full consultation response can be found here.