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Passport checks considered for pregnant NHS patients

(204 Posts)
LurkingHusband Tue 11-Oct-16 16:40:34

Pregnant patients could have to prove they are eligible for free NHS treatment by showing ID such as a valid passport, under plans being considered by one London hospital.
St George's says the checks would help tackle health tourism and would only be for non-urgent patients - emergency cases would get automatic care.
^It says such a move is in line with what guidelines recommend.
But critics say the checks could be potentially dangerous.^
St George's says it has a duty to use resources wisely, as well as provide care and treatment to patients requiring the hospital's services. The hospital has a high number of patients from overseas who are not eligible for NHS treatment.
The government said a pilot was a good idea and it would be keen to see the results.


It is possible to precis the story as "The only thing worse than a foreigner, is a poor foreigner".

YoungGirlGrowingOld Tue 11-Oct-16 16:47:04

I have no problem with them checking eligibility - having flown on the "Lagos Express" more than once! A passport won't do it though as it does not establish residency.

Usual caveats regarding emergency/lifesaving care. But the hospital's primary responsibility is surely to its own patients and the number of overseas patients who don't pay is obviously impacting on that.

AnguaResurgam Tue 11-Oct-16 16:48:39

I thought actual childbirth was considered an emergency (in the sense that it's an unstoppable event) and therefore - like all emergency treatment - was free to everyone.

But if they mean demonstrating eligibility for ante-natal care, then I'm surprised that's not happening routine already.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 11-Oct-16 16:50:15

So if someone is in this country and can't afford to pay for non-emergency treatment they shouldn't be allowed treatment? That's horrendous.

idontlikealdi Tue 11-Oct-16 16:52:40

I think they should check. We've had to access car in USA and France and it's always been payed for up front.

A life threatening emergency is different but general ante natal care yes, they should check.

mollie123 Tue 11-Oct-16 16:52:44

of course they should - in America and other countries I am sure checks would be made and we are far too trusting in this country. Maybe having to carry ID cards that cannot be falsified (as passports and other IDs can be) is the way to go. (Much as I dislike the idea of them)

OohMavis Tue 11-Oct-16 16:53:29

If someone's in the country and needs non-emergency treatment, wouldn't their travel insurance cover that though?

Or do people even need to get travel insurance if they're coming here? I'm not aware.

Northernlurker Tue 11-Oct-16 16:53:44

They can have treatment but they will also get a bill. Unlike the U.S. though, you will be likely to receive treatment before you get the bill, not have to present your credit card before you get in the building.

instantly Tue 11-Oct-16 16:57:06

What's the problem?

Except that as a pp said, a passport doesn't prove residency.

I've had treatment on the NHS before now despite it not being an emergency and not being a uk resident. No one checks. It's madness.

Yawnyawnallday Tue 11-Oct-16 16:59:14

We have the NHS as an alternative to us all having private insurance. The NHS is not the world's health service; it is paid for out of UK taxes and should include U.K. citizens who are non taxpayers. Urgent treatment should be treated by anyone but non-urgent treatment should not be available free of charge to anyone who is not entitled to it . At present we have a reciprocal arrangement with other EU nations but we don't get the UK NHS in e.g France. We get what the French get unless we have private insurance.
Not sure showing your passport is the "proof" necessary. But some sort of paperwork seems necessary.

YoungGirlGrowingOld Tue 11-Oct-16 17:00:34

Agreed Northern and that is the only humane way, but if the person then returns to their country of origin the NHS is very unlikely to get paid. Given the lack of resources on the front line, I am not sure employing admin staff to chase down non-payers is sensible. Particularly as it would be easy to deceive the hospital (fake address etc) if you were that way inclined.

NickiFury Tue 11-Oct-16 17:01:16

As long as it's applied to ALL patients and not just as yet another way to bash women, I can't see a problem with this.

PotteringAlong Tue 11-Oct-16 17:02:19

I don't see the issue; why on earth should they not check you're eligible? The rest of the world check!

GizmoFrisby Tue 11-Oct-16 17:02:37

If you were in another country you would have to pay for medical attention.

I think it's good they are cracking down on this.

People take the piss. That's why the country's fucked.

instantly Tue 11-Oct-16 17:03:51

Currently there seems no system at all to check who is using the nhs.

I turn up to OOH or A&E, whether it's an emergency or not and I'm seen. If I'm in wales I also get a free prescription (usually use parents address as that's who I'm visiting). I can also see the NHS GP if I fill out a "visitor" form.

I'm not actually entitled to use the NHS at all.

AStreetcarNamedBob Tue 11-Oct-16 17:06:23

How is this even contentious?

Of course we should check. If anyone from the UK travels abroad they expect to get health insurance. We don't have unlimited funds to pay for (possibly wealthy) tourists to use our facilities for free.

If they live here they'll get it free, if they dont then WHY SHOULD THEY?

GizmoFrisby Tue 11-Oct-16 17:06:55

Could possibly be to keep a tag on foriegn pregnancies in U.K.? Maybe?

Caipira Tue 11-Oct-16 17:08:59

The danger would be for people who can't afford medical care but are not eligible for NHS care just not getting help. When it's about babies lives I'm not sure this is the answer. I thought people could always be billed later either directly or through their embassy, which might be the reasoning behind seeing the passport. We never had to pay up front in the USA when living there or when on holiday. I was sent a bill by my insurance or just sent the whole bill once back home. We don't get health insurance when in the UK, I read we will just need to provide country on residence information and DH would need to show his passport. This is not new just probably not put into practice until recently.

GizmoFrisby Tue 11-Oct-16 17:12:16

Let's be honest. Why does everyone want to come and like in the uk?? The benefit system and the NHS social housing, the list goes on. Finally maybe they have got their heads out of their arses and seen what's happened to the country. It's a shambles.
Good on them.
I hope it deters a few pregnant women wanting to come and give birth here to get a British passport for their child!

ButteredToastAndStrawberryJam Tue 11-Oct-16 17:12:27

Good idea.

instantly Tue 11-Oct-16 17:14:33

Gizmo being born here doesn't make you British. This isn't the US you know!


GizmoFrisby Tue 11-Oct-16 17:15:16

I never said it did. Duh. hmm

gamerwidow Tue 11-Oct-16 17:15:47

All hospitals already have an overseas department whose job it is to check patients eligibility for treatment and bill where appropriate.
At my hospital we also have an overseas member of staff based at the women's health reception to tackle women trying to get treatment they are not entitled to. The problem of people trying to obtain treatment fraudulently is a significant issue.
I'm very much pro immigration but health tourism is very different. Immigrants contribute greatly to the country and are usually quite rightly able to access whatever NHS treatment they need. Health tourists contribute nothing and abuse the system we have all paid into.

Bestthingever Tue 11-Oct-16 17:16:00

I had my first two dcs abroad and we paid for the treatment. Why shouldn't visitors to this country pay?

GizmoFrisby Tue 11-Oct-16 17:17:25

Bestthingever spot on

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