Immigration Act 2014: Healthcare

Briefing on the provisions related to Heathcare from the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association:

From The Conversation:

by Prof. David Stuckler (University of Oxford) and Dr. Sarah Steele (Queen Mary University of London)

The Immigration Act 2014 “will implement an NHS levy on visas and permit the Secretary of State to extend charging to visitors and non-EEA migrants for NHS services when they do not fall into a handful of exemptions. If the bill comes into effect many migrants will likely face substantial treatment costs. […]

“This attack on migrants’ access to the NHS is not new. As far back as the late 1940s, Conservatives sought to limit healthcare access to those groups whom it deemed “deserving”. Bevan robustly defended universal access for all individuals in the UK, arguing:

How do we distinguish a visitor from anybody else? Are British citizens to carry means of identification everywhere to prove that they are not visitors? What began as an attempt to keep the Health Service for ourselves would end by being a nuisance to everybody. The whole agitation has a nasty taste. Instead of rejoicing at the opportunity to practice a civilised principle, Conservatives have tried to exploit the most disreputable emotions in this among many other attempts to discredit socialised medicine.

“A closer look at the data shows that Bevan’s critique is as on target today as it was then. First, to set up an elaborate system of charging will require the Home Office and NHS to share data. This will necessitate a new information system, along with staff training about how to use it. The bill is likely to increases NHS administration costs, bringing in less money from charging migrants than it costs to administer.

Second, there is no data supporting the claim that migrants cost the system. Indeed, the evidence points to the contrary. A budgetary analysis found that non-EEA migrants contribute 2% more than they take out during their time in the UK. This contribution offsets the less than 2% of NHS expenditure spent on migrants. At the same time, 36% of doctors registered with the General Medical Council are foreign, so that the NHS workforce relies heavily on the contributions of migrants. […]

“The bill is violent because it is likely to cause injury to people. Apart from a few exceptions, migrants generally come to the UK in better health than the local population. UK living and working conditions and diets, however, expose migrants to increased risk of non-communicable diseases. Screening and interventions are essential to reduce this risk and long-term healthcare costs. There is clear evidence that introducing charges and user fees for care reduces both necessary and unnecessary healthcare utilisation, with direct consequences for health.

Thus, both the British Medical Association and Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners regard the bill as troubling since it drives immigrants from seeking early interventions and routine healthcare, mainly because many will fear incurring substantial bills.

Leaders of professional NHS organisations are speaking out against the reforms. The British Medical Association, for example, has voiced concern that the changes conflicted with professional ethics and specifically doctors’ duty to provide care. Many healthcare workers may be unwilling or simply refuse to implement the changes as protest.”

This entry was posted in EU, Immigration Act 2014, law, migration, welfare/NHS. Bookmark the permalink.

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