Home > News > Judgment handed down in challenge to NHS charging regime and Immigration Rules provisions on NHS debts

Mrs Justice Foster today handed down judgment in R (SHU & E) v Secretaries of State for Health and Social Care and the Home Department [2019] EWHC 3569 (Admin). This was a claim brought by a vulnerable mother and British citizen child. The claimants challenged the provisions of the NHS charging regulations that imposed a six-figure debt on the child for life-saving treatment she received before attaining British citizenship, a debt which attached to the mother.

The claimants also challenged Immigration Rule 322(12), which provides that the Home Secretary “should normally” refuse any application for leave made by the mother on the basis of the debt. The charging regime granted NHS authorities discretion to write off an NHS debt. However, this did not extinguish the debt, meaning that a written-off debt fell to be taken into account under Rule 322(12).

The regulations were challenged on the basis of Article 14 of the ECHR read with Article 8; the challenge to the Immigration Rule was on the basis both that it was irrational to take into account a debt that had been written off, and that 322(12) was ultra vires the Immigration Act 1971 in that its function was debt-collection for the NHS, rather than immigration control.

Foster J dismissed the claim. The judgment is available here.

Samantha Broadfoot QC and Admas Habteslasie acted for the claimants, instructed by Adam Hundt of DPG.

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