Doctors have voted to stop charging foreign patients for NHS care.
Doctors who support the motion said charging makes health personnel & # 39; complicit in racism & # 39; and & # 39; racial profiling & # 39 ;.
Up to 500 delegates overwhelmingly voted in favor of abolishing the costs at the annual conference of the British Medical Association in Belfast.
& # 39; We are doctors who are not border guards & # 39 ;, said Dr. Omar Risk in Monday's debate. & # 39; Charging migrants for access to NHS services is a fundamental racist goal – we are complicit in the oppressive regime. & # 39;
Doctors who resisted the move were booed while they spoke.
Conservative MPs said that opening up the NHS to the rest of the world was reckless when its resources were stretched like that.
Doctors have voted to stop charging foreign patients for NHS care. Up to 500 delegates overwhelmingly voted in favor of abolishing the costs at the annual conference of the British Medical Association in Belfast. Doctors who resisted the move were booed while they spoke. (File image of the BMA)
Health tourism is thought to cost anything from £ 200 million to £ 2 billion a year. The BMA, one of the most powerful trade unions in the country, will now lobby the Ministry of Health to review the charging system.
Although the government determines the rules, they only function if doctors follow them.
Tory MP Andrew Percy said: “It's incredible that some doctors want to open the NHS for health tourism from people overseas who have not paid.
& # 39; Maybe doctors who support this can pay for the treatment of these people instead.
& # 39; Most people expect our NHS services to be reserved for those who live here permanently and who contribute to our system. & # 39;
Fellow conservative MP Philip Hollobone said: "The BMA is completely out of touch with public opinion on this issue.
& # 39; There is nothing racist about charging international tourists for the care they receive here. Every pound spent on treating health tourists is a pound that is not spent on British citizens. & # 39;
Only patients who usually reside in the UK – usually for at least six months – are eligible for free NHS care.
EU citizens can also get it for free, provided they have an EHIC card.
All others must be charged in advance before treatment begins and doctors, nurses and receptionists are required by law to first check the status of a patient.
The only situations in which this does not apply are those relating to life-saving procedures or treatment in A&E units. General practices are also free for everyone.
Conservative MPs said that opening up the NHS to the rest of the world was reckless when its resources were stretched like that. Tory MP Andrew Percy said: “It is incredible that some doctors want to open up the NHS to health tourism for people who have not paid. Maybe doctors who support this can pay for the treatment of these people themselves & # 39;
But the rules only work if doctors work together, especially because they have so much authority in individual hospitals and departments.
In the BMA debate on the issue on Monday evening, a motion was proposed arguing that it was & # 39; not cost-effective to qualify for NHS Care & # 39 ;. He called for "the policy of attracting migrants to leave for NHS care and for the NHS to be free for everyone at the point of delivery".
Dr. Jackie Appleby, who proposed the motion, said that charging immigrants for NHS care is a form of & # 39; racial profiling & # 39; was and not cost effective.
She said: & # 39; The costs for treating migrants and foreign visitors to the NHS are a drop in the earth compared to the total budget. The costs of health tourism are disputed. They are peanuts in the big picture of things. & # 39;
Speaking against the motion, Dr. George Rae said that dropping prizes would undoubtedly encourage health tourism.
He said: & # 39; The message from the BMA is … get on the plane, get on board, because you get a treatment at the NHS for nothing. & # 39;
Dr. Duried Syad Ali, who is also against the motion, said: “Every year we complain about a lack of resources and we complain about the pressure the NHS is experiencing.
& # 39; Health tourism & # 39 ;: what are the rules?
What is & # 39; health tourism & # 39 ;?
This is the time when patients who are not entitled to free NHS care are treated without paying their bills. It includes short-term migrants, holiday makers and foreigners who purposefully target the NHS. The exact costs are set between £ 200 million and £ 2 billion per year.
What are the rules?
Only patients who just stay in the UK & # 39; in the UK, are entitled to free care, which usually means they stay here for at least six months. This does not include healthcare in A&E units and GP practices that are free for everyone. In all other situations, employees are legally required to be eligible. Anyone who is not eligible for free care must be billed.
What about EU citizens?
Employees must record details and the government then invoices their member state. But the UK is notoriously inefficient in billing or collecting the money. Other EU member states are better at charging the UK.
Who enforces these rules?
Hospitals are meant to recruit officers to collect bills. But not all do and others only have one or two employees to monitor thousands of patients.
What if patients do not pay?
If treatment is urgent, patients are treated and invoiced afterwards. If it is less severe, patients may be refused care until they cover the costs. The situation varies between hospitals and some patients will be treated regardless. Many hospitals employ expensive collection agencies to pursue patients after being discharged.
What is the BMA doing?
It has voted to abandon the policy of charging foreign patients for free treatment. The union will now lobby for a change in the law. If this does not happen, doctors may decide to ignore the rules.
& # 39; But this motion puts more pressure on the NHS and robs them of possible resources. Accepting this movement sends the wrong message to the world and invites everyone to provide free healthcare. & # 39;
The motion was overwhelmingly accepted.
Dr. John Chisholm, who chairs the BMA Ethics Committee, said yesterday that members strongly believe that NHS care should be free at the time of delivery.
He added: & # 39; Charges discourage people from seeking the care they need; this not only damages their own health, but can also have consequences for public health. & # 39;
The BMA will urge the Ministry of Health to fully consider the abolition of charges or at least reduce the costs for certain foreign patients.
Two years ago, a devastating report from the Commons Public Accounts Commission revealed that hospitals failed to identify health workers, let alone charge them for treatment.
The findings prompted the Ministry of Health to issue new guidelines in October 2017, requiring employees to check the status of all patients in advance.
Many hospitals will ask to see passports or utility bills to confirm that patients have been living here for at least six months.
Patients who admit that they do not have a normal place of residence or refuse to provide documentation must be placed in a side room and interviewed by a foreign visitor's officer.
They will be asked further questions to determine whether they are from the EU and, if so, the government will invoice their Member State. Otherwise, patients will receive an invoice for the course of treatment and if they do not pay, staff must refuse to provide care.
But the cooperation of doctors is required because they are usually the most prominent members of the department or department.
The NHS is faced with an unprecedented financial crisis due to the aging of the population, the toll of lifestyle-related conditions such as obesity and diabetes and the costs of expensive new medicines.
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said: “British taxpayers support the NHS, and it is only true that overseas visitors also contribute to our health service so that everyone can receive urgent care when they need it.
& # 39; We have exemptions to protect public health and the most vulnerable patients. & # 39;
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