Warning of new 'hostile environment' as NHS ordered to charge EU citizens

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EU citizens living in the UK will have to prove they are entitled to free treatment on the NHS immediately after no-deal Brexit.

The UK is trying to arrange reciprocal agreements with EU states to make sure British citizens abroad have access to the same care.

But these have yet to all be agreed.

So far only one million of the three million EU citizens living in Britain have registered under the “settled status” programme.

NHS hospitals will have to carry out immigration checks leading to accusations of a new “hostile environment”.

A document to NHS trusts from the Department of Health and Social Care which was leaked to the Times says they need to prepare to start charging ‘immediately after exit day’, currently due to be October 31, the Times reported.

Dr David Wrigley, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association, said that the proposal was “another example of a chaotic, poorly planned result of a no-deal Brexit”.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

The Liberal Democrats accused Boris Johnson of reneging on a promise to maintain the status quo and subjecting EU citizens to the hostile environment.

Ed Davey has expressed concerns about a “hostile environment” for EU citizens

Home affairs spokesperson Ed Davey said: “This policy demonstrates that Boris Johnson has no intention of honouring the promise he made to the 3.6 million EU citizens living in the UK. 

“Both the Leave campaign and the Conservative Government promised that their rights would not change after Brexit, but this policy would deprive more than 2 million of their right to NHS care, free at the point of use.

“The Government says EU citizens have until the end of 2020 to apply for Settled Status, even if we crash out of the EU without a deal, but now we discover it plans to subject them to the Conservatives’ Hostile Environment as of November 1 this year. 

The guidance says that “in the absence of a reciprocal healthcare agreement with an EU country after exit day new visitors from that country to the UK will be chargeable at the standard NHS tariff”.

It goes on to add: “The changes to the charging regulations will come into force immediately after exit day if there is a no-deal Brexit.

“You should make sure that any changes to your operational practices are implemented from that point forward.

“You should work closely with your organisation’s senior responsible officer for Brexit preparation and their teams, to make sure that you are operationally ready to implement the new charging regulations after exit day.”

The Department of Health have been contacted for comment.



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