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The health charging regulations as part of the Home Office “Hostile Environment” Policy is having a huge impact on some migrant groups and refused asylum seekers including pregnant women, children and destitute people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and asthma. The policy is inhumane, threatens public health and may not actually save much money anyway due to costs of implementation and emergency admissions as a result of lack of health care.

It is clear to City of Sanctuary supporters that this policy is unwelcoming and damaging and opposed to the humane asylum process which we wish for. We urge our supporters to consider linking with health professionals and other organisations in their localities to form Health Streams of Sanctuary to both engage and inform and share best practice. One simple thing too for new Sanctuary Health stream alliances is the opportunity to promote the excellent Mental Health Awareness Resource Pack.

For support or further information please email [email protected]

Here’s some latest information on health surcharging:

Submissions to Department of Health Formal Review of ‘NHS Charging Regulations’

 Asylum Matters has submitted evidence to the Department of Health as part of its review into ‘The National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) Regulations 2017’. Our submission notes concerns about the limited scope and short timeframe of the review, which will have affected the quantity and quality of the evidence provided, and called for a formal consultation and independent evaluation of the impact of the regulations on vulnerable groups. Evidence submitted did attempt to highlight how the extension of charging into community services and upfront charging has impacted on vulnerable groups. Many thanks to our partners who shared evidence and fed into this submission, which you can find in this document AM Submission – Vulnerable Groups Representatives.  Doctors of the World have also done a submission which is available here.

 Impact of NHS Charging on Children Supported by Section 17 of the Children Act

 Public Law Project are seeking cases of families facing NHS charging who are supported under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989. Polly Brendon at the Public Law Project is interested in the impact of the charging regulations on children who are destitute, cannot leave the UK, but are not exempt from charging. This will generally be those whose family is being supported by a local authority under section 17 Children Act 1989, and who have an outstanding Appendix FM/Article 8 ECHR application. Of particular interest would be those who have been denied treatment because of the charging regulations. If you come across any relevant cases, please contact Polly Brendon, Solicitor at The Public Law tel: 020 7843 1263.

Government to Double the Health Surcharge

 The Government announced plans to double the immigration health surcharge paid by some migrants to the UK, from £200 to £400 a year, with the discounted rate for students and those on the Youth Mobility Scheme increasing from £150 to £300. This change will be made later in the year and Free Movement notes that ‘a few weeks’ notice of the increase’ can be expected as ‘new or amended regulations should be all that is required to double the fee’. Health Minister James O’Shaughnessy said, “By increasing the surcharge so that it better reflects the actual costs of using health services, this Government is providing an extra £220 million a year to support the NHS.” JCWI commented, “This is an outrageous and cynical attempt by the government to shift the blame for its own failure to deal with the crisis in the NHS.”