Show your passport if you want to use Britain’s National Health Service ( NHS), patients could be told

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Every NHS patient could be asked to show their passport before they receive healthcare, a senior official has said.

The Department of Health’s top civil servant said a national scheme could mean the entire population is expected to bring two forms of identification  before receiving treatment.

Chris Wormald, the permanent secretary, disclosed the proposals as MPs said “taxpayers are being taken for a ride” by the failure to charge health tourists and those who fall sick while visiting the UK.

We are looking … at whether trusts should do upfront identificationChris Wormald

Mr Wormald told the public accounts committee the Government was considering rolling out plans which were “controversial” and would mean a significant change to the culture of the health service.

The committee heard that Britain has paid £4.3 million towards treatment for Britons in Poland – but received just £1.5 million for the cost of treating Poles in NHS hospitals.

Mr Wormald said the Department of Health was examining whether passports would be suitable for every part of the country.

It was possible that schemes could be targeted in areas with high immigrant populations, he suggested.

NHS
MPs said the taxpayer was being “taken for a ride” by the failure to charge health tourists  CREDIT: ALAMY

“We are looking at whether more trusts should go down that route, as has been done in London and elsewhere, on people having to prove their identity,” he said.

“And whether that is proportionate – whether in just some places or whether you want to apply it to the whole country.

“Those are the questions that we are looking at.”

The Department of Health has yet to announce its decision on plans to extend charges for overseas patients beyond non-urgent care, but is expected to do so within weeks.

Mr Wormald said significant changes were needed to recoup costs from overseas patients who are not eligible for free treatment.

Hospital ward
The proposals could apply to hospitals in certain parts of the country CREDIT: PETER BYRNE /PA

“We are looking … at whether trusts should do upfront identification,” he told the committee.

“There are individual trusts like Peterborough who are doing that, who are reporting that it makes a big difference.”

Currently the NHS only attempts to recoup charges for non-urgent care. But ministers are drawing up plans to introduce charges for overseas patients who use Accident & Emergency departments, ambulance services, maternity units and GPs.

Mr Wormald said the NHS had “a lot further to go” in ensuring that treatment costs were recouped.

Last month the National Audit Office found NHS Trusts collected just £255 million of at least £500 million spent providing treatment to foreign patients last year.

Eight trusts failed to collect payment from a single overseas visitor who  received free treatment to which they had not been entitled.

Charlie Elphicke, a Conservative MP, highlighted figures showing how much more money Britain pays out than it  receives.

“Poland claimed £4.3 million from the UK in 2014-15 but the UK only claimed £1.5 million from Poland,” said the MP, suggesting that the taxpayer was “being taken for ride” by “political correctness and a non-charging culture in the NHS”.

Last year research suggested that the UK is now paying out £15 for the healthcare costs of Britons who fall ill abroad for every £1 it gets back for the NHS treatment of European visitors.

Those from outside the EU are supposed to pay for care. Meg Hillier, the committee chairman, expressed concern about British residents who would struggle to find suitable ID. “I have constituents who have no photo IDs,” she said.

“Because they have never travelled they have no passport, they have no driver’s licence because they have never driven, they still live at home because they can’t afford to move out so they’ve never had a utility bill in their name.

“[They are] perfectly entitled to health care – British born, British resident – how are you going to make sure that people have access easily to the NHS without having to go through a very humiliating and impossible-to-meet set of demands?”

Mr Wormald said the Government had yet to decide whether it was “proportionate” to ask every patient seeking treatment for identification..

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2 Responses to “Show your passport if you want to use Britain’s National Health Service ( NHS), patients could be told”

  1. BeingMulticellular Says:

    But not every British person has a passport! Even those that aren’t immigrants, so this could not only exclude those that have emigrated into Britain but those that are from poorer families who can’t afford to renew passports

  2. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum..

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