“The Government proposes to introduce legislation to Parliament in autumn 2013 which will include a range of measures to improve the enforcement of the UK’s immigration laws and make it difficult to live in the UK unlawfully. The need to control immigration and protect public services will be built into the benefit system, the National Health Service (NHS), the housing system and the wider provisions of services across government.
This consultation, which closes on 28 August 2013, seeks views on proposals to better regulate migrant access to publicly funded health services in the UK. These proposals respond to longstanding public concern about migrant access to health services.” [i]
What Migrants’ Rights Scotland thinks
We agree with the Home Office that their policymaking is about enforcement and making it difficult for people to live in the UK lawfully. Recent policies have been political reactions to negative (read scapegoating) pressures on the UK Government from rightwing groups and public, stirred on by elements of the media, to produce better economic, employment and living conditions. These policies have not been based on logical, considered strategies supported by credible data, data analysis (example) and research (example). Leading academics and economists have argued and received growing media coverage on the benefits of immigration (example) as well as the hollow ‘evidence’ presented by the Government. Regardless, migrants or immigrants have experienced serious difficulties simply trying to live here; the impact on families and across the education sector being the two most newsworthy recently.
But Ministers press on with measures to curb migrants’ conditions of stay and benefits, to the point of restricting their human rights. In fact, for Scotland, this should be a growing concern as we believe the encroachment of reserved immigration matters on devolved areas of housing and health will have huge impact on the Scottish Parliament’s ability to satisfy the human rights credentials of the Scotland Act.
The NHS is a key public service and one of our greatest assets. The Government is committed to maintaining the NHS as a service which is generally free at the point of delivery. We are also committed to the principle that everyone should be able to access health services. But we also believe it is fair to ask migrants to contribute towards the care they may receive from the NHS.
These proposals respond to longstanding public concerns that the current rules regulating migrant access to the NHS are too generous, particularly when compared with wider international practice, poorly applied and act as a draw to health tourists.
This consultation on the Immigration Bill proposals will run in parallel with a separate Department of Health consultation which analyses the vulnerabilities of the current charging regime for overseas visitors in England.
The proposals are:
- the introduction of a new qualifying test for non-EEA nationals who wish to access free NHS care, that is based on permanent residence in the UK.
- the options of (i) introducing a new migrant health levy for temporary non-EEA migrants, payable on application to enter or remain in the UK for longer than six months, including allowing some migrants to opt out of the levy where they have their own health insurance; and (ii) requiring temporary migrants to take out private health insurance
- consultation on the principle of extending charging for NHS services beyond secondary care to cover all clinical services provided to non-EEA short term visitors and illegal migrants, including the provision of primary medical care services (e.g. access to GPs).
FULL background papers on the consultation can be found here:
Make your response to the consultation here:
You have only until 28 August 2013.
You may find it helpful to look at the Overseas Visitors and Access to Health Care website for extra background and information, as well as tips on how to respond to consultations etc.
PLEASE NOTE that people in England are also being asked to respond to a Department of Health questionnaire on the same topic of migrant access to health care and financial contribution to NHS provision in England. The handy Model Response by the Entitlement Working Group of partner organizations suggests possible replies you can use for the separate Home Office consultation.
[i] From the official Government consultation: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=amnjfFnVXR0tfC7cWVlv6YSSHlTN44udlTHsKoa4phQ%3d
[ii] as footnote i.