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The Immigration Health Surcharge was introduced by the Cameron–Clegg coalition in 2015 under the Immigration (Health Charge) Order 2015, made under the provisions of the Immigration Act 2014 to deal with the problem of medical tourism involving the NHS in England

The fee charged by the Home Office as a part condition to settle and or work in the UK between April 2015 to April 2018 was £200 for each year the British National was  Sponsored or British Company Sponsored a family member to live or work in the UK. 

The average health surcharge bill for a British national to sponsor his or her partner was Between £500 to £1,000.

Government’s research concluded that an unknown proportion of medical tourism to be  fraudulent. That a net exporter of medical tourists, alleged that 63,000 UK residents travelled abroad for treatment, however 52,000 patients were getting treatment in the  UK for free. Additionally, an email written by Jo Johnson, head of private and overseas patients for the St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, stated: “The problem is escalating within obstetrics and we have just been made aware that individuals are currently offering paid assistance to women in Nigeria to have their babies for free on the NHS at St George’s.” It adds: “St George’s is targeted as it does not currently have a robust process to check eligibility. “We know from feedback from other non-eligible patients that St George’s is viewed as an ‘easy target’.” The email went on to say the local health economy is losing around £4.6m a year from patients who are not entitled to access the system (reported in 2017).

A Home Office pilot scheme subsequently to check whether patients were entitled to free NHS care in 18 NHS trusts indicted that 11 NHS Trusts in London, for two months in 2017 asked 8,894 people for two forms of ID prior to non-emergency care. Only 50 were not eligible for free NHS treatment. Campaigners claimed this was “part of the Government’s hostile environment policy”, and that in Newham hospital “you will see huge signs saying you may not be eligible for free NHS treatment”.[6]

Did the above report pilot schemes, see the introduction to The Health Surcharge against Foreign Families (spouses, children, lawfully employed foreign nationals) where they are joining their British family members, which are already taxpayers? 

In January 2019, the Health surcharge doubled to £400 per year.

The average health surcharge bill for a British national of sponsor his or her partner was from £1000 to £2,000.

The Immigration Health Surcharge: Written statement – HCWS995 “Our NHS is always there when you need it, paid for by British taxpayers. We welcome long-term migrants using the NHS, but believe it is right that they make a fair contribution to its long-term sustainability. That is why we introduced the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) in April 2015”. 

The IHS applies to non-European Economic Area (EEA) nationals subject to immigration control seeking to reside in the UK to work, study, or join family members for more than six months. Those who pay the charge may access the NHS on the same basis as UK residents for the duration of their lawful stay, i.e. they receive NHS care generally free of charge but may be charged for services a permanent resident would also pay for, such as prescription charges in England. 

The IHS has raised over £600m and this money has been distributed to the Department of Health and Social Care and the health ministries in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for health spending, in line with the Barnett formula. 

The reported figure of  £600m ought to have satisfied the Government that the charge has benefited the NHS, would you agree?

Here are some NHS Reported News regarding Tourist Medical Treatment:

Health tourists exploiting a lack of ID checks and costing NHS £280million a year 

Reported May 2019

DOCTORS have backed a decision to stop billing foreign patients for NHS care — calling it “fundamentally racist”.

Reported June 2019

HEALTH TOURISM TARGETED Debt-collecting hit squads target hospitals treating the largest number of health tourists

Reported May 2019

NHS does not have limitless funds to treat foreign visitors

Reported November 2018

Health tourist racked up more than £530,000 in medical fees after having treatment at UK hospital

Reported Jan 2018

Some NHS Trusts have reported to recoup an additional £400,000 annually from patients not entitled to free care. The hospitals will receive “intensive support” to improve cost recovery, according to a report in the Health Service Journal. It will include project managers “well-versed in working with overseas patients” and experts in “debt recovery” as mentioned in the Sun May 2018.

Vanessa Feltz on “Doctors have voted to scrap a law requiring foreign patients to pay upfront before they can receive treat” – BBC Radio talk show, really highlights the issues which the Government must address:-

  1. Is the NHS ignoring the law of that land, by not charging Tourist?
  2. Should the NHS be penalised for not checking patients right to receive NHS Treatment?
  3. Do NHS TRUSTS require training on how to assess who is a Tourist and who is a Settled Foreigner of a British national?
  4. Should British national families applying to settle in the UK, continue to be exploited with higher Health Surcharges for the failings of  the government to monitor NHS TRUST decision not to charge Tourists?

Do these failings constitute a breach of Article 8 where the British Family Sponsor must also meet the Income Threshold and Home Office Visa Fees?

Express your view today, info@immigrationstatus.co.uk

NHS TRUSTS that state their patient treatment protocol:

University Hospital Coventry

Royal Liverpool University Hospital, Liverpool 

Medway Maritime Hospital

King’s College Hospital

Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust,

NHS Wales Direct 

Royal Hampshire County Hospital

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Hospital Birmingham

Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT)

London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Croydon Health Services NHS Trust 

Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust

Royal Free Hospital

The Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust 

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust 

Great Ormond Street Hospital

Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust

St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Barts Health NHS Trust

This is not a complete list of NHS TRUSTS in England, Wales & Scotland, and this list is information to support the NHS commitment to supplying treatment to patients that meet the legal requirements.

By Shabana Shahab (Status Solutions UK) at info@immigrationstatus.co.uk