NHS bosses have issued preparation to trusts across the UK telling them to charge EU citizens previously entitled to free care on the system “immediately after exit day”, which is October 31. The instruction has come in a directive to the NHS the Department of Health via Boris Johnson’s Government, The Times reports. But the rule, likely to affect one million of the three million EU citizens living in the UK, has already been condemned before it has been rolled out.
The move has led to accusations the new Prime Minister and his team are creating a new “hostile environment” for immigrants.
Citizens’ rights groups added the “poorly planned” measure could also burden hospitals with regards to checks needing to be carried out.
Added to that, they said thousands of patients may not be able to easily prove their entitlement to free NHS care.
A Department for Health spokesman confirmed the move and that such checks will take place from November 1, 2019 – the day after the Brexit deadline.
He said: “EU citizens living lawfully in the UK on the day of Brexit will be able to continue to use the NHS as long as they can demonstrate that they live in the UK on a lawful and property settled basis.”
Maike Bohn, co-founder of the 3million group campaigning for the rights of EU citizens living in Britain, blasted the move.
She said: “Such a move is discriminatory and outrageous.
“The new guidance is creating a hostile environment for millions of EU nationals who have the right to free healthcare in the UK but won’t be able to prove it. This outrageous decision spells chaos as the two groups of EU citizens will be indistinguishable to the NHS and we are running the risk of people being denied vital treatment they are fully entitled to.”
Deputy chairman of the British Medical Association Dr David Wrigley also criticised the crackdown, calling it “another example of a chaotic, poorly planned result of a no-deal Brexit”.
He added: “This system would present hospitals with the mammoth task of determining where a patient was born, and, if they are from one of the 27 EU nations, whether they are eligible for free care.
“With most people not carrying documentation to prove this — and the deadline to apply for settled status not until the end of December 2020 — it is a nigh-on impossible ask for any workforce, let alone overstretched NHS staff.
Tory MP Alberto Costa, who campaigned of the rights of Britons living in EU states, added: “In the referendum the Vote Leave campaign that is now running Downing Street pledged to protect the rights of EU citizens living in Britain. Making them have to prove their rights to use the NHS is injurious and a breach of that commitment.”
He also said it may have a nock-on effect on Britons living in EU nations.
He said: “Such a move will make it harder to agree reciprocal healthcare arrangement to protect all citizens.”
Mr Johnson took over from former Prime Minister Theresa May three weeks ago.
He was a major figurehead in the Vote Leave campaign along with Michael Gove, Priti Patel and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.
Remain campaigner Marcus Ball today lost his legal fight against the new Prime Minister over the £350million EU referendum bus claim which he took to the Supreme Court.
The bus toured the UK stating the £350million a week the UK pays to the EU should be better spent on the NHS.
Mr Ball raised £350,000 to fight Mr Johnson to no avail.
Published at Wed, 14 Aug 2019 15:48:00 +0000