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Government must give guidance on care of failed asylum seekers who cannot return home

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 31 March 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1345
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

    Failed asylum seekers are not entitled to free treatment on the NHS in England, the Court of Appeal has ruled, overturning a High Court judgment last year.

    But the appeal court judges held that, although NHS trusts have a discretion to withhold treatment, they also have a discretion to provide treatment even when a patient has no means of paying.

    The judges ruled that Department of Health guidance to trusts on providing treatment for overseas visitors is “seriously misleading” in failing to tackle the question of failed asylum seekers who cannot return home. The guidance will have to be rewritten to set out how the discretion to withhold or provide treatment should be exercised in …

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