In its Report ‘Delayed, deterred, and distressed: The impact of NHS overseas charging regulations on patients and the doctors who care for them’ the BMA states that there is now clear evidence that The National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 are deterring vulnerable groups from accessing NHS treatment, threatening public health, and taking vital clinical time away from patient care.
A survey of BMA members’ experiences of the regulations in action has found that:
- many doctors have faced pressure from OVMs (Overseas Visitors Managers) when making clinical judgements regarding a patient’s need for care
- the regulations, and particularly upfront charging, are deterring patients from seeking care, including for treatments that are not chargeable
- based on their experiences thus far, BMA members have reported that the regulations are negatively impacting public health
- vulnerable groups are being, and will continue to be, negatively affected by the regulations
- the regulations have increased workload for doctors and wider teams, taking time away from patient care
This comes amid widescale reports of British residents being denied care under the so-called ‘hostile environment’ and follows other research – such as Maternity Action’s What price motherhood? – that has shown patients from vulnerable groups are being deterred from accessing vital treatment due to fear of charging.