Consultation on migrant access to health services - NHS Employers' response

passport and money

28 / 8 / 2013 9.06am

In July, the Department of Health (DH) published a consultation on 'migrant access and their financial contribution to NHS provision in England'. A separate, parallel Home Office consultation on 'regulating migrant access to health services in the UK' has been running to look at specific elements of the DH proposals on a UK-wide basis.  

As the NHS Employers organisation we have responded to these consultations looking specifically at the impact of these proposals on the current and future migrant workforce in the NHS.  

Read a summary of our response.

Proposed measures

The consultations outline proposed measures which include:

  • changing the existing 'ordinary residence' test and introducing a new qualifying test for non-EEA nationals based on permanent residence
  • measures to ensure illegal migrants and short-term non-EEA visitors are appropriately charged for NHS services
  • introducing a new migrant health levy for temporary migrants collected as part of the visa and immigration application process
  • a requirement for temporary migrants to take out private health insurance
  • extending charging for NHS services beyond secondary care to cover all clinical services, including the provision of primary medical care services.

NHS Employers' response

We are keen to ensure that the UK immigration system enables the most talented and skilled professionals to come to the UK to support our economy and public services. We are in agreement and support approaches to increase activity to identify and reduce illegal entry to the UK and health tourism.

The proposals within the consultation apply a blanket approach to charging individuals who are in the UK for very different reasons. We would be keen to see measures of tackling abuse of the system in a more targeted way and would encourage the Home Office to consider excluding temporary migrants who are entering the UK for employment purposes.

In relation to the NHS we would support an approach that exempted employees entering the UK under either tier 2 or tier 5, these individuals:

  • are already subject to high costs and administration charges to obtain their visa;
  • contribute to the economy by virtue of their employment as a skilled professional in the NHS and living in the UK, and
  • contribute tax and national insurance to the Government by virtue of their employment.  

We look forward to continuing to work with the Home Office to ensure the ongoing success of a migration system which enhances the ability of healthcare providers to recruit highly skilled healthcare professionals. 

Further information

A summary of the responses received to the consultations is expected to be published shortly. We will keep employers informed of the outcomes through our workforce bulletin

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