NRPF Network makes case for exemption from healthcare charging for local authority supported migrants

(27 January 2015)

We have submitted a report to the Immigration Minister outlining the impact of the NHS Charging Regulations upon NRPF migrants in receipt of local authority support.​

The NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2011 do not currently exempt NRPF migrants in receipt of financial support from social services departments from incurring charges for particular types of secondary healthcare.

We have compiled a report that outlines the case for why such an exemption is required. The report includes case studies from a number of local authorities which demonstrate the impact of the 2011 Regulations upon certain NRPF clients:

The key focus of the report is the contradiction between the local authority duty to support the non-exempt NRPF clients and the absence of any such duty upon the NHS. It also looks at the similarities in the status of non-exempt NRPF clients and refused asylum seekers who receive support under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and are exempt. Finally, it analyses the costs and benefits of charging NRPF clients based on their typical financial situation and, of significant concern, the fact that NHS debt may be used as a reason for refusing applications for leave to remain.

The report concludes by requesting an exemption for local authority supported migrants in new Regulations made under the Immigration Act 2014, which will impose a new charging regime as part of the Department of Health's Visitor & Migrant NHS Cost Recovery Programme that is currently being implemented. 

We are grateful to the Local Government Association (LGA) for inviting the Network to attend the LGA Asylum, Refugee and Migration Task Group on the 20th January 2015​​, where the Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire MP, was in attendance. We took this opportunity to highlight some of the key issues currently affecting NRPF service provision, including the impact of secondary healthcare charging, and have since forwarded the report to the Minister's Office. 

We will provide further updates about the implementation of the healthcare charging provisions set out in the Immigration Act 2014 when this information becomes available.

The report has been researched and authored by Daniel Gardiner from Islington Council, so thank you to him and to the local authorities that provided the case studies included in the report. ​