Charging non-residents for health care is unworkable and harmful to the wider UK health system, the results of a survey suggest.
The mixed methods digital survey examined attitudes towards and understanding of UK health care charging regulations. The survey was disseminated through the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health to their members.
There were 200 responses from a range of health care professional backgrounds.
One third (34%) reported examples of the charging regulations impacting patient care. The responses detailed 18 cases of migrants being deterred from accessing health care and 11 cases of health care being delayed or denied outright. There were 12 cases of delay in accessing care leading to worse health outcomes, including two intrauterine deaths.
The survey also revealed that there is a lack of understanding of current NHS charging regulations and their intended application among health care staff.
Commenting on the findings, the authors said: “The NHS charging regulations are a deterrence to healthcare access for certain migrant groups and are a source of harm to individual patients and to public health, as reported by Maternity Action, Doctors of the World, and the British Medical Association.”
“The NHS charging regulations are unworkable and are having a detrimental impact on the wider health system, as well as conflicting with its staff’s professional and ethical responsibilities,” they said.