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New regulations on healthcare charging, and the impact on refugees, people seeking asylum, and other vulnerable groups

This is a tremendously important briefing sheet from Asylum Matters. It describes the extension of charging to community services, including public health and local authority health funded projects and specialist services for homeless people and asylum seekers (ie York Street).

Although it’s not made much of a splash in the press, this is a pretty big deal, and a further extension of the “extremely hostile environment” and will impact in particular on women – with charging covering Health Visiting, School Nursing, Community Midwifery, Termination of Pregnancy.

“The Government recently proposed to amend a set of rules, known as the ‘NHS Charging Regulations’, which govern how people access healthcare in England, and when they have to pay for it. New regulations were laid before Parliament on 19 July 2017. This briefing explains what changes the new regulations seek to make – with a particular focus on their impact on refugees and people seeking asylum.

Some people in the UK are not entitled to free NHS hospital care. This includes people who are here for short-term visits, undocumented migrants, and some asylum seekers whose claims have been refused. There are already processes in place for hospitals to identify and bill patients for their care. The Government has now made new regulations extending NHS charges to community healthcare services, and placing a legal requirement for all hospital departments and all community health services to check every patient’s paperwork and charge up front for healthcare; refusing non-urgent care where a patient cannot pay.”  

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