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Can they have it both ways - BMA

(110 Posts)
Pantglas1 Wed 26-Jun-19 10:41:48

It’s been reported that doctors have voted to not charge people from abroad who don’t qualify for free NHS treatment in our hospitals. Is that fair when they complain about underfunding?

Urmstongran Wed 26-Jun-19 11:13:49

500 delegates at the BMA conference in Belfast voted not to charge for non residents. I don’t know how many votes in total were called so not sure whether this was actually carried.

That said (a) we have a NHS not an international health service and (b) surely the doctors are not accountants and managers/government should decide policy - not the medics!

GabriellaG54 Wed 26-Jun-19 11:22:00

I read it with a mounting feeling of anger.
NO NO NO angry

gillybob Wed 26-Jun-19 11:32:38

I really can't understand this at all. The NHS (for which we all contribute) is struggling and yet they have decided not to charge those who have come from abroad and do not qualify. It beggars belief . I agree with Urmstongran it is not an International Health Service. I wonder how much this will actually cost?

GrannyGravy13 Wed 26-Jun-19 11:35:03

Sorry but it is our NHS, we contribute to it through NI and taxes so although it is "free at point of delivery" it is technically not free.

I have paid when abroad, broken arm, severe migraine attack and chest infection, would not occur to me not to pay. (All of these in EU countries, they were not interested in EHIC card)

suziewoozie Wed 26-Jun-19 11:49:56

I think this is political grandstanding isn’t it? Part of the very unhappy ongoing relationship between the doctors and the government over funding issues. In reality it isn’t the doctors who determine eligibility but an admin member of staff. What the government needs to do if it is cost effective is come up with some system to determine who is eligible or not. A national photo ID card could incorporate this information and be used for many many other purposes eg voting, benefit entitlement, right to be employed etc etc The whole issue is complex and really needs thinking through. I actually don’t know what the Government does have in place and what hospitals are supposed to do at the moment. Obviously the government won’t take the slightest notice of this conference motion.

Missfoodlove Wed 26-Jun-19 11:56:29

I do not believe anyone should be treated on the NHS unless they are paid into the system.
However I think there is a huge issue in that it is taking a lot of resources to try and claw back monies owed.
I am beginning to think that we are heading towards having national identity cards with some kind of chip/fingerprint system.

Luckygirl Wed 26-Jun-19 12:01:14

I would make a distinction between unforeseen accidents, when in all humanity someone should be treated, and health tourism.

GrannyGravy13 Wed 26-Jun-19 12:03:50

Luckygirl totally agree, but in those circumstances (traffic accident, assault or even terrorist incident) they should be treated and the relevant government billed.

suziewoozie Wed 26-Jun-19 12:13:20

Yes it’s interesting thinking what should be done with an unforeseen accident but there’s also the person admitted in terrible pain, the woman in labour. In cases like this surely staff have to just get on and treat them and then deal with payment afterwards? With asylum seekers and people without leave to remain I don’t see how their governments could be billed - well you could bill Syria but you’d be wasting your time.

Sussexborn Wed 26-Jun-19 12:13:23

Would disagree with Susie. I would prepare a bill for overseas patients, who were usually quite prepared to pay, and if the GP spotted it he (interestly not so with the She’s) would make an issue of tearing it up and saying it was not necessary. In that case the money should come out of their mind boggingly high salaries.

suziewoozie Wed 26-Jun-19 12:16:09

There was thatt poor Windrush man who was denied ongoing cancer treatment unless he paid £54000 upfront and then it turned out he was fully entitled to be living here anyway.

suziewoozie Wed 26-Jun-19 12:18:27

Sussex are you talking about GP surgeries or hospitals. I think the issues are different in both settings.

suziewoozie Wed 26-Jun-19 12:24:16

This is interesting - it says GPs can’t charge anyway

sassenach512 Wed 26-Jun-19 12:38:48

I get so angry with 'health tourists' who come to our country for medical procedures then do a runner without paying, completely taking advantage of our great NHS. The African woman who came here almost ready to have her triplets comes to mind. She gave birth here, then her children had to be cared for till they were old enough to go home, all at our expense and, of course, the cost of it all was never recovered.
A few years ago, my daughter took ill with heat exhaustion on a coach tour in Yosemite in the US and had to be taken to the clinic there. Before they would even look at her, we had to produce our health insurance. Luckily the £2,700 we were billed for, was picked up by the insurance. When we go abroad, we expect to pay for any treatment, why do people from other countries expect our medical treatment to be free? I agree that unexpected injuries, conditions etc are a different matter but we really should pursue these people who are just taking the proverbial

EllanVannin Wed 26-Jun-19 12:39:10

Anyone who carries a health insurance card can be treated here if they're visiting for less than 3 months. Always supposing that a GP is prepared to treat someone as a temporary resident.

Any treatment given is charged to the permanent country of residence. I used to stamp such case-notes where a person from another country has received treatment then the secretary would send the billing to the NHS in that country.

As soon as I landed in Oz, I obtained a medicard in case I had to use the GP/NHS. You have to pay upfront there but get a percentage back,except on prescriptions.

Might I add that there have been rows over discrimination in treating some of those from abroad owing to language problems where the patient was " unaware " of charges for both an illness/injury and an interpreter and a refusal to pay because of this so I imagine because of the hassall it created, decided against charging. Well that's one way of getting out of paying !

felice Wed 26-Jun-19 12:51:58

I was in the UK for a month a few years ago I needed a blood test every second/third day. I went to my Mothers doctor and they refused to accept my health insurance for payment. The Receptionist was very patronising, 'you don't have to pay here dear'.
I had recently had a double pulmonary embollism, and have an artificial heart valve so take an anti-coagulent (Sintrom).
I was annoyed as I pay my 6€ a month health insurance happily here and still feel guilty about 'using' the NHS.
Perhaps some staff training in claiming costs from abroad might help.

suziewoozie Wed 26-Jun-19 12:54:00

The case of the pregnant African woman - I wondered at the time why we don’t hold airlines responsible in cases like this?

suziewoozie Wed 26-Jun-19 12:57:06

GPs can’t charge I believe so that’s all the training they need. In hospitals I believe there’s a specific member of staff to do this job and looking at my link it is horrendously complex.

Sussexborn Wed 26-Jun-19 12:57:18

GP surgery. Had one man who brought his whole family (just occurred to me that there was no way of checking if they were relatives!) one at a time to get all their ills treated and medication put on repeat. There were over 30 people registered at his 3 bed semi though a colleague who lived nearby said that she hadn’t noticed anyone apart from his immediate family and grandma.

jura2 Wed 26-Jun-19 13:05:30

you are right suzie - it is horrendously complex in real life.
GPs feel that a) it is not their job to check the status of patients and b) they do not have the time, the staff, etc, to do the checks- extra staff would have to be appointed and trained - and who would pay for those? + extra accomodation. a dedicated room, etc, etc.

Secondly, if you do have sick people in the community- be it HIV, TB, measles, or any communicable disease- is it best to treat and therefore control the spread, educate, etc- or not treat and allow risk of contamination.

It sounds simple, but it is certainly not.

However, it is ridiculous that overseas people with holiday insurance who offer to pay, as they are fully covered- are told 'not to worry, we can't be bothered' ... which I have witnessed with my own eyes at A&E in Bedford.

suziewoozie Wed 26-Jun-19 13:47:26

I don’t think there’s any suggestions for GP care to be other than free for everyone. The focus is all on secondary care. I agree that it seems a pity that insured overseas visitors can’t pay if they want to but maybe if a hospital has hardly any cases like this it simply isn’t worth the bother. Especially for a one-off A and E attendance - there’s a cost to generating the bill for one thing

SueDonim Wed 26-Jun-19 14:00:57

I'm surprised to learn that GP care is free for everyone. My son, who is British but has lived in the US for over 15 years, developed shingles when he was staying with us. He saw our GP but he had to pay for the appointment. It wasn't a massive charge, just a two figure sum, but he definitely had to pay.

Otoh, when my dh forgot his medication one time when we visited the US, it cost us £400 just to get a prescription for a 10 day supply of a common drug ! Luckily health insurance covered it.

suziewoozie Wed 26-Jun-19 14:18:56

Do you live in Wales or Scotland as the rules may be different there?

suziewoozie Wed 26-Jun-19 14:20:53

Apologies for being Anglocentric