There’s been coverage on the BBC today about a proposal to begin charging non-EU migrants for various NHS procedures.
Some of you who know me personally may remember when I ranted about the government’s decision to introduce charges for the NHS for migrants, and that this would be how the government introduces charges for NHS services across the board. That it would start with NHS fees with visa applications, then extend to GP and hospital charges for migrants, and then to the general citizenry. That the Tories couldn’t resist the opportunities presented by an NHS that suddenly and oh-so-conveniently has an infrastructure for charging for services.
Well, step 2 of that plan is already in evidence. If you didn’t believe me before, perhaps you should believe me now.
Oh, and Jeremy Hunt: I’ve been here for ten years, I’m not a ‘visitor’. I paid my own way as a PhD student and spent the years after that as a tax-payer, paying taxes for services I can’t even legally use as a migrant. I’ve even been doing research about health and social care provision in the UK. So don’t you dare tell me I don’t ‘make a fair contribution to services’.
Do yourself a favour, people, and respond to the government consultation on Monday. Even if you don’t give a damn about people like me, us so-called non-EU ‘visitors’, and how this change would make my life in the UK unlivable and unaffordable, then at least look out for yourself by stopping this nonsense before the Tories extend it to everyone.
It’s time now to make a decision: is the NHS free at the point of delivery, or is it not? If we want it to remain a free service, then we must stop this creeping commercialisation before there’s no turning back.
Let’s not forget too that the recent changes in April 2015 also included charges for 150% of the cost for non-emergency procedures for non-EEA visitors. Perhaps a test run for introducing a profit motive within the NHS?