Charging for NHS treatment
Since the law changed in 2015 many people are no longer deemed ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK and are charged for all NHS care at 150% of cost price except for emergency care. This is considered a form of privatisation as it prevents NHS treatment from being free at the point of use for all UK residents; a basic tenet of the NHS since its inception. This has put many lives at risk. Since 2017 this policy has been further ramped up by the Government with more and more pressure being put on Trusts to collect money from those deemed as ‘non-resident’. Unpaid debts can lead to visas, or right to residency being removed.
Pregnant women are thought to be particularly targeted and a Freedom of Information request from Keep Our NHS Public's Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign showed over 500 women in Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust in 2018 alone, were asked to pay up to £9,000 for having a baby. A new report from Maternity Action backed by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) in September 2019 showed these charges risked making women unable to access appropriate perinatal care.
Immigration health surcharge
On top of this the Conservative Government is adamantly pushing ahead with plans to expand its immigration health surcharge, despite significant opposition to it from health organisations including us and the BMA. It is deemed unfair as people who live here, and pay taxes here are being forced to pay additional money on top of that paid by British citizens, to access the NHS. Since the end of the UK's transition period to leave the EU, this charge has become applicable to EU nationals living in the UK, which it was not before.
The yearly surcharge has more than trebled since its introduction in 2015.
Next section: Trade deals and data privacy
In this section Keep Our NHS Public has created a number of articles to help you explore the different ways the NHS is being privatised.
Read our definition of NHS privatisation.
You can find a summary of these on our page: How is the NHS being privatised?
Read in more detail about the different mechanisms being used to privatise the NHS:
- Private Finance Initiatives
- Health and Social Care Act 2012
- Cuts and underfunding
- Outsourcing staff
- Migrant charging
- Trade deals and data privacy
- Health and Care Bill 2021