UK Immigration: Doctor Speaks out Against Health Surcharge Rules

This week, Dr Elliot Singer has spoken out about the unfair and unwanted expectations put on GPs in the UK regarding the immigration status of their patients. The UK Home Office’s new health charges, which came into fruition on 6 April 2015, are placing responsibility on GPs to refer their migrant patients to the hospitals if they require treatment that may require a fee. 

Doctor Singer: We are not Qualified to Monitor Immigration Statuses

Last month, Dr Singer along with other doctors from Tower Hamlets, Manchester and Salford called for the British Medical Association (BMA) to clarify and echo the message that all doctors in the UK are required to provide medical care and not for “monitoring of immigration status”. Dr Singer voiced his concerns that it was not ethical to expose patients in the way that the UK Home Office want them to:

“The whole issue is inequitable. The emphasis is on GPs to check someone’s migration status to see if they are entitled to NHS care and put this in a referral letter. It is absolutely ridiculous. We are not qualified to do this and it is waste of time and resources.  It presents a conflict of interest. If I know a patient of mine cannot financially afford care, do I then treat them myself when I know they could get better care from a consultant? Ethically it presents quite a dilemma.”

The concerns of Dr Singer are completely reasonable as he has studied and trained to medically treat people not act as an Immigration Officer. The UK National Health Service’s principle is to provide good healthcare to all regardless of whether or not they can afford it.

The chair of the BMA has shown his support of Dr Singer’s concerns stating:

“Anyone accessing NHS services should be eligible to do so, but it is vital that doctors are able to concentrate on treating patients rather than acting as border guards. The BMA’s is concerned that a system of migrant charging is likely to be an ineffective and that it could end up costing the NHS money to administrate.”

Paying the UK Immigration Health Surcharge

As mentioned above the new Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) was implemented on 6 April 2015 and is expected to be paid as part of the immigration application. Non-EEA nationals who apply to come to the UK to work, study or join family for more than 6 months will be subject to the Health Surcharge. It also applies to non-EEA nationals who are already in the UK and want to extend their stay.

Initially the health surcharge was expected to be paid separately from the visa application fee and applicants would have to include their IHS reference number in their online application. However, as of 5 July 2015, when an applicant is making an online application and an IHS reference is needed they will be automatically directed through the IHS process when they complete their online visa application. This way payment for the health surcharge and the visa application fee will be made at the same time.

For more information and assurance on the new Immigration requirement our expert Immigration Solicitors will be able to guide you through the process.

Legal Advice & Successful UK Visa Applications

Our team of experienced and professionally qualified immigration solicitors and barristers will be able to guide you through the process of making a visa application to the UK step by step and limit the possibility of failure by complying with the strict letter of law.

Contact us so that we can review your case and provide you with an assessment.

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