Changes to Charges: Keeping a weather eye out for the summer season

Tempting as it may be to switch off during the holiday period, blithely assuming that nothing of significance could possibly happen during the summer recess, you may find yourself missing important changes if you do.

21 August sees the coming into force of the first tranche of modifications to the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2015, brought about by the 2017 amending regulations (SI 2017/756). The other key implementation date is 23 October 2017.

Arguably the most significant points to note are:

  • The ability to charge will be extended from just NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts (and local authorities exercising public health functions) to any body providing accommodation, services or facilities pursuant to arrangements made under the NHS Act 2006 (excluding primary care). So this will include non-NHS providers for the first time.
  • Services other than those provided “at, or by staff employed to work at or under the direction of, a hospital” will become potentially chargeable. 
  • Where the charging body has made reasonable enquiries and concluded that the service/patient is not exempt from charging, it must secure pre-payment for the estimated amount of the charges, unless this would prevent or delay the provision of immediately necessary or urgent treatment.  
  • NHS trusts and foundation trusts must record the fact that a person is an overseas visitor against their NHS number.

Of particular interest to readers, we suspect, will be the fact that NHS Continuing Healthcare becomes potentially chargeable (although some palliative care services will be exempt). However, Part 4 of the 2015 Regulations contains multiple categories of exempt patients, largely unmodified, upon which you will need to keep an eye.

More detail can be found in the Department’s new implementation guidance (currently in draft and potentially misleading in places), which extends to a mere 118 pages. However, there is a helpful table of the principal amendments at pages 4 -6 of the draft guidance.

Happy holiday reading!

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