My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Lord O’Shaughnessy) has made the following written statement in the House of Lords:
This Government are committed to making sure that only those people who are living here and contributing to the country financially will get free National Health Service care. Following a two year programme of work to improve identification and cost recovery from chargeable patients in hospitals we consulted on extending the charging rules to areas of NHS care that are currently free to all. Proposals for this were set out in a public consultation entitled “Making a fair contribution—a consultation on the extension of charging overseas visitors and migrants using the NHS in England”, which ran from December 2015 to March 2016.
The proposals explored within the consultation aimed to support the principle of fairness by ensuring those not resident in the United Kingdom pay for NHS care. The proposals would not restrict access, but rather make sure that everyone makes a fair contribution towards the cost of the care they receive.
We are today publishing our response to that consultation. It summarises respondents’ views and sets out how the Government intend to extend charging and increase cost recovery from patients not eligible for free care, including:
Requiring NHS providers to obtain charges upfront and in full before a chargeable patient can access non-urgent treatment.
Including out-of-hospital secondary care services and NHS-funded services provided by non-NHS organisations within the services that chargeable patients will have to pay for.
Removing NHS assisted reproduction services from the range of services provided free of charge under immigration health surcharge arrangements.
The principle that the NHS is free at the point of delivery for people ordinarily resident in the UK will not be undermined by this work.
The most vulnerable people from overseas, including refugees, will remain exempt from charging. Furthermore, the NHS will not deny urgent and immediately necessary healthcare to those in need, regardless of payment. Exemptions from charging will also remain in place for the diagnosis and treatment of specified infectious diseases in order to protect the British public from wider health risks.
The potential income generated through the extension of charging will contribute towards the Department of Health’s aim of recovering up to £500 million per year from overseas migrants and visitors by the middle of this Parliament (2017-18). The recovery of up to £500 million per year will contribute to the £22 billion savings required to ensure the long-term sustainability of the NHS.
We are also publishing today on gov.uk the evaluation of the initial phase of the programme, the lessons from which we are factoring in to the future operation of the programme.
It is also available on line at: http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications.