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Response to Sustaining services, ensuring fairness

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The Big Life group has responded to the Government’s consultation on migrant access and their financial contribution to NHS provision in England: Sustaining services, ensuring fairness.

The fundamental principle of the NHS is that it is free at the point of access. This principle is undermined by these proposals, which suggest the introduction of eligibility and charging into the NHS at a service entry level: primary care, A&E and hospital services. The health and wellbeing of visitors to, and undocumented residents of, this country are as significant to public health as that of any other person.

We disagree with the principle proposed in the consultation of ‘A system where everybody makes a fair contribution to the NHS’. Access to the NHS has never been reliant on people making a contribution. Children, people living with lifelong conditions that mean they cannot work, and new migrants have a need to access healthcare regardless of whether they have made a contribution. The NHS is based on an aspiration to live in a country where everyone’s health is cared for, regardless of their ability to pay or contribute.

At Open Door in Grimsby, we are commissioned by the NHS specifically to reach out to communities which least access health services in a planned way – the homeless, migrants and ethnic minorities. If we are required to check their eligibility to services we will find it even more difficult to encourage people to access services.
We know that homeless people, travellers, and ethnic minorities, are often reluctant to access services and/or access services later than other sections of society. This is why they are often more sick and die earlier than other people.

You can download and view our full response here.

You can read more about the consultation here.

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