The government aims to legislate and change the administrative arrangements governing the rights of visitors, recently arrived people and illegal migrants to health care on the NHS. They are currently consulting on what changes they should make, so your views are particularly relevant on this issue whilst the government is making up its mind on the detail.
The government believes that there should still be an entitlement to free emergency care if a visitor, recent migrant or an illegal migrant is caught in a bad accident or develops a serious condition that needs rapid treatment. The issues to be settled are what entitlement if any do these categories of people have to the rest of NHS care.
If someone comes to work or stay here for a longer time period on a legal visa they currently can register with a GP for free primary care. If a visitor needs GP care during a shorter visit they too can currently onbtain free care from a GP. A visitor is not meant to receive free hospital treatment for anything other than an emergency whilst staying here. They can obtain health insurance or pay cash for any treatment they do want in a UK hospital, or wait until they return home.
People exercising their right to work here under EU movement of labour rules qualify for free treatment like all UK citizens. The NHS is meant to cross charge the country they have come from for the treatment offered.
The government has suggested charging other new arrivals £200 as an initial payment or contribution to NHS costs, to be followed by a continuation of current practice of free treatment thereafter.
Is this a sufficient levy and a fair approach, covering people like students and short term workers coming to the UK with a visa? Should temporary residents qualify for free GP care? Should hospitals have to take more care over charging people from 0verseas receiving treatment? How far should we go to ensure that we are running a National Health Service, rather than a World Health Service?
I see this morning’s papers are full of news of high death rates and poor performance by a number of NHS hospitals. What should the government do about that?