The Department of Health has now responded to the consultation on access of foreign nationals to the NHS. On the positive side the Government proposes to make some changes:
* Exempt refused asylum seekers on S95 or S4 and unaccompanied children from charges for secondary healthcare
* Ensure those that have started free treatment will continue it even if their status changes and they become eligible for charging
These are issues that Still Human Still Here has been actively campaigning on over the last two years and should benefit more than 10,000 asylum seekers.
Of more concern are its proposals to:
* Share data about debts for NHS treatment with UKBA so that they can refuse people with outstanding debts extended entry to the UK or citizenship.
* Carry out a further review on charging arrangements which will consider, amongst other things: the qualifying residency criteria, whether GP services should be charged for and whether to introduce a requirement for health insurance tied to visas.
The Government intends to lay regulations as soon as possible to make the changes outlined above and to issue new guidance in around June. A consultation on the further review of charging arrangements is likely in 2012.
To see the full response to the document go to: http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_125272.pdf
Still Human Still Here
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