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Nhs Cards

Volume 202: debated on Tuesday 21 January 1992

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps doctors take to ensure that the person named on the national health service number card is the patient sitting before them; and what his Department is doing to prevent possible fraudulent visits occuring;(2) if he will make a statement on the reasons patients are not usually required to show their national health service number card when visiting doctors and dentists; and if he will take steps to ensure that the rule requiring the card to be shown is more vigorously enforced.

An NHS medical card is issued only when a patient has been accepted on to a GP's list. It is not normally considered necessary for a patient to produce a card in order to obtain treatment on subsequent occasions since family doctors and dentists normally know their patients and have the patients' records to hand. There are separate well-established arrangments for dealing with temporary residents. GPs and dentists are required to provide any treatment which they consider to be immediately necessary without regard to the nationality of the patient concerned.GPs and dentists are also advised of the relevant reciprocal health care agreements and are directed to offer private treatment if it appears that a patient has come to the United Kingdom specifically for medical care. In a case of uncertainty the GP can ask to see the patient's NHS card. He can then decide whether to accept someone as a NHS patient or on a private fee-paying basis.We have no evidence available concerning any extra costs to general practice resulting from these arrangements.