It is understood that over 2 million people living in the UK will not have access to free NHS treatment after Brexit. The Government are currently in discussions with EU countries to ensure UK citizens have access to free care abroad after Brexit.
As of October 31st all EU citizens living in the UK will have to prove they are entitled to free treatment on the NHS before treatment will be given.
It is reported that only a third of EU citizens living in the UK are registered under the "settled status" programme even though free treatment is given to all without questions or proof of status shown. This will mean after Brexit the NHS hospitals will have to enforce checks and request proof of status before patients can be treated.
There are concerns that the enforced checks could lead to threatening and intimidating behaviour are surfacing if proof of status is not able to be shown!
It is believed that NHS hospitals will need to start checks immediately after the UK leave the EU, however this could be a colossal undertaking by NHS staff who are already struggling due to an overstretched workforce. Hospitals would need to check every individual’s country of birth and check whether they are eligible for free care. Most people do not carry proof of identity so the NHS will need to check and confirm if they are indeed from one of the 27 EU countries that are allowed free care in the UK.
If the Government fail to come up with an agreement on healthcare, then all visitors from EU countries will be charged at the NHS standard tariff immediately after Britain’s exit. The Government and NHS are currently in preparation with regulations under way so that the NHS can put the new charges into effect immediately on November 1st.
The department of health and social care wanted to reassure EU citizens living in the UK prior to October 31st that they will be still be eligible to free NHS treatment. It will be interesting seeing what happens over the next few months and how all of this can effect our healthcare. As well as the budgets the hospitals will have for systems such as Nurse Call and Staff Safety.