The Prime Minister is preparing to limit the access to NHS care for immigrants amid concerns that the NHS has become the ‘global health service’.
Graeme Swain, medical negligence lawyer and managing partner of Swain & Co Solicitors, says, “This is seen as a knee jerk response to the Eastleigh by-election, where the Conservative Party came third behind the Lib Dems and UKIP.”
Ministers are considering making immigrants wait for up to a year before they can assess NHS healthcare, apart from for Accident and Emergency and ante-natal care.
This is a direct response to criticism that the Conservative party are failing to connect with voters following the Eastleigh by-election.
The Prime Minister is also considering introducing a law promising a post-election referendum on our EU membership ahead of the 2015 general election.
However, David Cameron has also insisted that the Conservative Party should avoid a lurch to the right, and will maintain a ringfence protecting the NHS from spending cuts and refuse to yield demands from the Thatcherite right to end the exemption.
Currently, any person living here with the UK as their permanent residency can access NHS services.
But, changes being considered include making immigrants wait until 6 months or even a year before being granted to right to habitual residence, therefore reducing access to NHS care for immigrants.
There are also considerations about access to health care for short-term visitors, students and those on temporary visas. Plus, whether immigrants should have to make a contribution, possibly through national insurance, before they can use hospitals.
This is also to form part of the campaign against health tourism by visitors to the UK who have no right to access free healthcare, including failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.
Hospitals will also be forced to impose the rules more stringently.
Graeme adds, “With reference to the Prime Minister not wanting the party to lurch to the right, well I think this is lurch to the right and will affect many vulnerable people within our society.”
“What are medical professionals, who have taken a promise to save people’s lives, to do when a desperately ill person needs medical attention, but is not eligible to have our care? What if that person is a child?”
We are supposed to treat those coming to our country to live, the same as our own people.