Intended for healthcare professionals


Extending migrant charging into emergency services

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 09 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i685
  1. Sally Hargreaves, senior research fellow1,
  2. Laura Nellums, research associate1,
  3. Jon S Friedland, professor1,
  4. Jacob Goldberg, research nurse1,
  5. Philip Murwill, clinic manager2,
  6. Lucy Jones, programme manager2
  1. 1International Health Unit, Section of Infectious Diseases and Immunity, Department of Medicine, Imperial College London, London W12 0NN, UK
  2. 2Doctors of the World UK, London E14 5AA, UK
  1. Correspondence to: S Hargreaves s.hargreaves{at}

New proposals make the NHS the most restrictive healthcare system in Europe for undocumented migrants

The Department of Health is proposing to extend charging for migrants into some NHS primary care services and emergency departments.1 Although the government asserts that the NHS is “overly generous to those who have only a temporary relationship with the UK,”2 these proposals will make the NHS a highly restrictive healthcare system for migrants to access care and treatment.3 4 Of particular concern is the effect on the thousands of undocumented migrants living without legal status in the UK, who are often marginalised, vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and have poor health outcomes.5 6 7

This is the third consultation on migrant charging since 2004. The 2013 consultation,2 which launched the NHS visitor and migrant cost recovery programme, was framed in the context of restricting services and making the UK a “hostile environment” for undocumented migrants. It was debated alongside the 2014 Immigration Bill, described by the Migrants’ Rights Network as “the most …

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