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Major changes to NHS charges for overseas visitors come into effect

Substantial changes to the regime for making charges to overseas visitors who use the NHS come into effect today, 23 August 2017 as a result of the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 which amend the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2015.

The changes are far reaching and will mean, for example, that NHS virtually all community services provided to overseas visitors will be subject to NHS charges for the first time.  This will particularly affect any overseas visitors who are in receipt of services from NHS bodies under the NHS Continuing Care regime.   Charges will be required to be imposed for all such services from 23 August 2017.  It will also mean that informal mental health patients who are overseas visitors will have to be charged for their treatment where the provider is an NHS body. 

Further major changes will take effect on 23 October 2017 when:

  • The duty to charge will extend to all providers of NHS services, not just NHS bodies. 
  • NHS providers will be required to “secure payment first, treat later” for all non-urgent medical treatment.

Primary care remains outside the scope of the NHS charging regime.  However the government appears to have made a policy decision in favour of charging for overseas visitors who access primary care services and has said that it will be developing plans to roll out charges in this sector at a later date.

A full guide to the complex area of NHS charges is now available here on the Landmark Chambers NHS Law website.