NHS treatment isn't free for everyone

Posted: July 11, 2016

Overseas visitors may have to pay for some hospital services

Living in a country with a publicly-funded health system means that healthcare treatment is free at the point of need for most people, but not everyone.

People described as non-ordinarily resident, which means their usual place of residence falls outside the UK, may have to pay for some of the treatment and care prodvided at the Great Western Hospital. 

Government legislation requires that Trust staff check that all patients are entitled to their care for free. 

To do this, staff who are traditionally a patient's first point of contact will routinely ask every person arriving if the UK has been their home for at least six months.

A patient was recently denied an operation on the NHS after staff became suspicious about the length of time they said they had been living in the UK.

A counter fraud specialist investigated the case and discovered the patient's visa documents were forgeries. 

The patient, whose treatment was not essential, was later questioned by the police and then detained by the UK Border Office before being deported back to their country of origin 48 hours later. 

What questions will be asked?

The question, have you been living in the UK for at least six months?, is asked in all NHS hospitals to all patients, regardless of their race, age, gender, ethnicity or sex.

If a patient has not, or there is reason to believe he or she has not been in the UK for six months, they will be asked to complete a number of forms before their treatment can begin. 

Further information

Last year the Trust recruited an overseas visitor manager to help enforce the process of routinely asking patients if they are eligible for NHS treatment.
Anyone who would like more information should contact Debbie Palmer, Overseas Visitor Manager, on 01793 604467 or at debbie.palmer@gwh.nhs.uk.

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