Implications for voluntary sector groups of charging new migrants for NHS services
Regional Voices have produced several briefings looking at the Immigration Act and how it may affects access to services for migrants.
As the Immigration Act (2014) is implemented, a new charging regime for primary care is scheduled come into force next year- which may impact voluntary sector providers and on the health of BME groups. The charge is targeted at migrants who are in the UK for less than six months and who have not paid a new health surcharge.
The charging regime is set to apply to primary care such as minor surgeries, A&E, and services outside of hospital. At some point, most likely after May 2015, DH will be looking at whether charging should be extended to all commissioned services (including those delivered in the voluntary and community sector and may even include projects that are grant funded by the NHS). It is vital that your organisations keep track of these changes and contribute to the consultations and lobbying on these policies.
These changes could have significant impacts on your client groups and on your organisations. The Race Equality Foundation and others believe that the charges have the potential to impact health, and encourage racial profiling. There are still ongoing negotiations on health charging, and in particular to try and exempt certain people considered vulnerable from paying. Regional Voices is concerned about impact on maternal and neo-natal health and on spread of tuberculosis and HIV if people are discouraged from using health services. As well as damage to trust of VCSE services if charges need to be brought in along racial lines. Regional Voices will keep the voluntary sector briefed on any changes/consultations that impact on the sector over the next few months.