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‘Nurses should resist passport checks for overseas patients’

A nurse has called on health professionals to boycott a new requirement to check patients’ passports.
iStock-585628490.jpg

A nurse has called on health professionals to boycott a new requirement to check patients passports.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the plans earlier this month , in a bid to recoup the 500million cost of treating overseas patients on the NHS. The new measure aims to have recovered the costs by 2017-18.

Taking effect from April, health professionals will be asked to check upon arrival that their patients are UK citizens. Those who are not will be charged upfront, although those needing urgent care will be treated immediately and invoiced later.

The move came after a damning report from the Commons public accounts committee , which argued that the current system for making up the

A nurse has called on health professionals to boycott a new requirement to check patients’ passports.


From April, health professionals will be asked to check the passports of
UK citizens to ensure they are eligible for treatment. Picture: iStock

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the plans earlier this month, in a bid to recoup the £500million cost of treating overseas patients on the NHS. The new measure aims to have recovered the costs by 2017-18.

Taking effect from April, health professionals will be asked to check upon arrival that their patients are UK citizens. Those who are not will be charged upfront, although those needing urgent care will be treated immediately and invoiced later.

The move came after a damning report from the Commons public accounts committee, which argued that the current system for making up the deficit was chaotic, and demanded the Department of Health (DH) draw up an action plan by June.

Pitting nurses against patients 

But, in an opinion piece for the Independent, nurse Evan Luckes claimed the measures would endanger patient safety. He also warned it could harm public perceptions of nurses.

‘Soon we nurses will become symbols of fear; a barrier to your right to good health,’ he wrote.

‘No longer will we be the safe space, the non-judgemental ear, and the people who hold you in your darkest hour. We will first challenge your legitimacy to be here, challenge your identity, your history and your right to health.’

Mr Luckes raised concerns over treatment for UK citizens without passports, and said there was a ‘particular brutality to a system that pits nurses against patients’. 

Take a stand 

He called on nurses to take a stand. ‘We can talk to our colleagues and make sure they know about the changes, we can lobby our managers to vocally oppose the scheme and put up posters reassuring patients, and we can make it clear that we will not be checking passports ourselves. There will no doubt be severe backlash from management, but if we support each other, they will have to listen.’

RCN general secretary Janet Davies has previously said ‘overworked clinicians’ should not be expected to administer charges.

The Nurse Action Group at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust has started work on an information pack to help staff start their own campaigns against the DH plans.

Working with Docs not Cops, the group is teaching migrants how to access GP services.


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