Patients May Be Forced To Show Passports To Get Treatment In The UK

Patients can be asked to prove identity to qualify for free treatment in a bid to tackle health tourism. British residents without IDs may face serious concerns.

The British government is cracking down on people who come into the country just to benefit from the free health care available.

Chris Wormald, a senior official at the Department of Health, says the government needs to do more to reclaim money from foreign NHS users and that identification of people using NHS elements is complicated.

“We are looking at whether trusts should do more on upfront identification,” he said.

Some trusts already ask patients to fill in forms and prove their identity.

“The general question — are we looking at whether trusts should proactively ask people to prove identity? Yes we are looking at that," said the PAC senior official.

“There are individual trusts like Peterborough who are doing that, who are reporting that it makes a big difference and there you are saying 'please come with two forms of identity, your passport and your address' and they use that to check whether people are eligible or not.

“Now it is obviously quite a controversial thing to do to say to the entire population you now have to prove identity.”

However, PAC chairwoman Meg Hillier does not agree with this scheme, saying that it has raised concerns for British residents who don’t have photo ID and those who would struggle to find a utility bill.

“I have constituents who have no photo IDs,” she said.

“Because they have never traveled they have no passport, they have no driver's license because they have never driven, they still live at home because they can't afford to move out so they've never had a utility bill in their name.”

“They are perfectly entitled to health care — British born, British resident — how are you going to make sure that people have access easily to the National Health Service without having to go through a very humiliating and impossible to meet set of demands?” she remarked.

The senior civil servant accepted that it was not part of “health service culture” but that it may be necessary to crack down on use of the NHS by overseas visitors, as they do not have an automatic right to free care.

A National Audit Office report issued last month said the government paid out $839 million to other European countries for the treatment of Britons abroad, but received only $61 million in return for the NHS treatment of European citizens.

A couple of months earlier there was news of NHS trusts to ask for a pregnant woman’s identity before giving birth.

People were not very happy with this proposal, suggesting the government to end privatization instead of putting barriers between people and vital care.


National Health Services

National Health Services

National Health Services


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