NHS charging for overseas visitors – wrong on every level

Martin McKee - 5 September 2018

Regulations that deny visitors NHS care – except for certain infectious diseases and to relieve death pains - are riven with contradictions. And will hit some unexpected victims as well as the intended scapegoats.

Given the choice, the British government’s guidelines on implementing their overseas visitor charging regulations would not have been top of my reading list. Especially because I had already read them once – but still had to revisit them to formulate an answer to a question on a list server. The question was, at least superficially, simple. The regulations contain a list of diseases which - for any visitor to the United Kingdom unlucky enough to have one of them – the NHS will still provide free treatment. Is this list appropriate? Is there anything that is missing? As is often the case, an apparently simple question opens up many other less obvious issues. Here are just a few of them.

The guidelines were written for health professionals and managers who must decide whether a patient is entitled to free NHS care, in the light of recent regulations restricting access for visitors.... See more

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