Health and people seeking asylum

Government 2021 information about the rights of people from other countries in repect of health care:

GP and nurse consultations in primary care, treatment provided by a GP and other primary care services are free of charge to all whether registering with a GP as an NHS patient, or accessing NHS services as a temporary patient. A temporary patient is someone who is in the area for more than 24 hours and less than 3 months.

For secondary care services, … you must be living lawfully in the UK on a properly settled basis to be entitled to free healthcare…. people from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA) who are subject to immigration control need to also have the immigration status of ‘indefinite leave to remain’.

People who are not ordinarily resident in the UK may be required to pay for their care when they are in England. However, some services and some individuals are exempt from payment.

NHS services that are currently free of charge irrespective of an overseas visitor’s country of normal residence (as long as they have not travelled to the UK for the purpose of seeking that treatment) are:

  • accident and emergency services
  • services provided for the diagnosis and treatment of some communicable diseases, including HIV, TB and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome
  • COVID-19
  • sexually transmitted infections
  • family planning
  • services for treating a physical or mental condition caused by torture, female genital mutilation, domestic violence or sexual violence
  • palliative care services
  • NHS 111 telephone advice line

Groups that are exempt from charge include:

  • refugees (people who have been granted asylum, humanitarian protection or temporary protection under the immigration rules) and their dependants
  • asylum seekers (people applying for asylum, humanitarian protection or temporary protection whose claims, including appeals, have not yet been determined) and their dependants
  • people receiving support under section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 from the Home Office ….

People whose application for asylum has been rejected may still be exempt from charge if they are supported:

Refugee Council resources to help people access health services:

  • Refugee Council’s policy note on health barriers – outlines the main issues our clients are experiencing when they access health services, including issues arising in the course of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Therapeutic IAHC Communication Card – a double-sided card with useful vocabulary and phrases with translations. It can be used to speed up and clarify communication about health problems with the doctor, nurse, reception staff, in the hospital, with people who work in supporting organisations and to members of the public; translated to five languages: AlbanianArabicDariFarsiTigrinya.
  • Maternity guide for women on asylum support Print version PDF version.
  • Maternity guide for professionals PDF version
  • Five video films to share learning and good practice:
    • Film 1 – It is different over here: access to healthcare in the UK.
    • Film 2 – Experiencing the asylum process in the UK and impact on health.
    • Film 3 – Access to health for people seeking protection in the UK.
    • Film 4 – The right to be understood: the importance of interpreting.
    • Film 5 – Experts by Experience.
  • Special pages on COVID19

Health needs for asylum seekers in Southampton and Portsmouth by Rebecca Wilkinson, Public Health Registrar, on behalf of the Wessex Global Health Network