To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, who is responsible for making a decision on whether a patient qualifies for an exemption under the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 and as set out in his Department's accompanying guidance; and to what extent clinicians are involved in such decisions.
The NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 place a legal obligation on providers of National Health Service-funded secondary care to identify patients who are not ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom (‘overseas visitors’) and make and recover charges from them unless an exemption from charge category applies to either the patient or the service they access.
The Department has issued guidance to the NHS called ‘Guidance on overseas visitors hospital charging regulations’ in which it strongly recommends that trusts appoint a designated Overseas Visitors Manager to oversee the charging regime however all staff including clinicians have a responsibility to ensure that the charging rules work effectively.
Clinicians provide appropriate healthcare for patients and make decisions on their treatment based on their clinical needs. The charging regulations do not change that. However, clinicians will at times, be required to make a decision on whether treatment is urgent or immediately necessary for those patients identified as not eligible for NHS-funded care.
It is only a clinician who can make an assessment of whether a patient’s need for treatment is immediately necessary, urgent or non-urgent for patients whose status is unknown or have been identified as being chargeable.