Quite aside from the obvious moral case, the new policy will impact the economic sustainability of the NHS and the health of the population for decades to comeby Timesh Pillay / October 23, 2017 / Leave a comment
As a doctor in the NHS, I’ve seen Jeremy Hunt’s Department of Health initiate a number of controversial reforms, including the widely unpopular junior doctors contract, mostly without proper consultation. However, none have had the destructive potential of the department’s latest intervention.
From today, it becomes mandatory for all patients seeking NHS care in England to undergo immigration checks, with those deemed ineligible to pay 150 per cent of the cost of care up front.The stated aim is to recover costs from so called ‘health tourists’ but there will be wide ranging and severely negative impacts on both the economic sustainability of the NHS and the health of the population in coming decades as a result.
The NHS is one of the most cost effective healthcare systems in the world. By being resident-based, it avoids the bureaucracy of insurance eligibility and by treating everyone, it maximises public health benefit. Both advantages of our pooled system are under threat from this policy.
The Government’s own research shows that overseas visitors not entitled to care cost the NHS at most £300 million per year, less than 0.3 per cent of its budget.
This broad and blunt attempt by the Department of Health at recouping this cost is complicated by a number of practical issues. Firstly,