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Matt Hancock unveils £1m plans to reclaim NHS overseas visitors debts

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has announced an additional £1m funding, as part of plans to expand the team of experts responsible for recovering millions of pounds in costs for treating overseas visitors in the NHS.

Since 2018, NHS trusts have had access to a dedicated team of cost-recover experts, who work alongside cost-recovery managers already working within NHS trusts.

The expansion of this team will help the NHS reclaim outstanding debts from overseas visitors, who under most circumstances are required to pay for their care.

The team will also help the NHS understand and implement the charging rules and processes for EEA visitors and migrants as part of preparations for leaving the EU.

Only people who are ordinarily resident in the UK are eligible for free care, with non-EEA visitors required to pay a health surcharge when they apply for a visa to live temporarily in the UK.

Government remains committed to protecting the most vulnerable people in our society – refugees, asylum seekers, victims of modern slavery and children cared for by local authorities – and these are in most cases granted exemptions over healthcare costs.

NHS rules also state that trusts must never withhold treatment from patients who require urgent healthcare while they are in the UK, even if they cannot afford to pay. Where treatment is non-urgent and it can wait until they leave the UK, it must not be provided unless fully paid for in advance.

Speaking about the announcement of the additional funding, Matt Hancock said: “Our beloved NHS is renowned around the world for providing high quality health care and it is able to do so thanks to the valuable contributions made by hardworking taxpayers - so it is only fair we ask overseas visitors to pay their way as well.

“Today, we’re backing the NHS and giving them the support and the tools they need to ensure the rules are applied fairly and consistently.

“This new drive will help recoup millions in unclaimed funds for our NHS which can go back into frontline patient care, so the NHS can be there for all of us when we need it most.”


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