Restriction to access NHS for temporary migrants

The Immigration Bill that was presented by the Government in October 2013 introduces new measures in relation to the free NHS care for temporary migrants. In accordance to the system in place free primary NHS care is available to migrants who have lived in the UK for one year or non-European migrants with a permanent residence right in the UK. Short term non – EEA visitors may also have an access to the NHS providing that GPs accept their registration.

The goal of the new measures is to reduce the phenomena of “health tourism” and abuse of the free health system by migrants who stay in the UK on a temporary basis or those who remain in the UK illegally.

The main novelty is a “levy” in the sum of £200 a year imposed on non EEA migrants who apply for a limited entry clearance or limited leave to remain in order for them to benefit from the NHS care. In the case of an entry clearance visa the £200 will be paid as a precondition for an entry clearance approval.

Therefore, the GPs will have to check the immigration status of people willing to register with their practice in order to determine if they are entitled to the free care. People who reside in the UK lawfully but temporary will have to pay the contribution either by themselves or the UK will reclaim the money back for their care from the migrant’s original country. The latest option will be possible only if a mutual agreement exists between the UK and migrant’s country. Those with temporary visas will be issued with time limited “NHS numbers”.

The emergency care will still be available for anyone who needs an urgent treatment. However, the free post care will be subject to restrictions and to financial contribution for the temporary residents.

The new system is at present in the bill phase and the measures will be finalised during this year.