Letter: NHS migrant charges

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This week the BMA responded to the government’s consultations on charging migrants for accessing the NHS service – proposals that we believe will inconvenience patients across Sussex and will put an increased burden on the already over stretched GP services. (30th August 2013).

It is difficult to see how plans to introduce charging for migrants could be implemented without ensuring every patient in Sussex is checked by their GP practice when they register. This could cause long waits and delays at GP practices across the county and put huge stress on local services as the NHS does not have the infrastructure or resources to introduce a complicated charging system.

Government changes to the GP contracts are going to reduce practice funding and increase pointless, administrative box-ticking. This will mean that GP practices throughout Sussex will struggle even further to maintain an effective service for their patients.

Anyone accessing NHS services should be eligible to do so, but the government’s proposals are impractical, uneconomic and inefficient. We have seen with the recent NHS 111 phone line fiasco what happens when an ill thought out policy is rushed through without proper consideration of the practical implications. Ministers need to learn from recent experiences and work with healthcare professionals to find workable solutions to the issue.

Dr Russell Brown, British Medical Association , GP Rep East & West Sussex