Every NHS patient could be asked to show their passport before receiving care, a senior civil servant at the Department of Health has said.
Chris Wormald, the permanent secretary, said the Government was considering rolling out the ‘controversial’ plans as the NHS has ‘a lot further to go’ in reclaiming money for treating foreign visitors. “We have some trusts that are looking at asking for two forms of ID before treatment.
“Now that is obviously quite a controversial thing to do but… those are the kinds of things we want to look at.
“There are individual trusts like Peterborough who are doing that, who are reporting that it makes a big difference.
“It is quite a controversial thing to do, to say to the entire population you’ve got to prove your identity’.”
Currently, the NHS only attempts to recoup charges for non-urgent care. Ministers are now drawing up plans to introduce charges for overseas patients who use A&E departments, ambulance services, maternity units and GPs.
In October, the National Audit Offices found NHS Trusts collected just £255 million of at least £500 million that was spent treating foreign patients last year.
Commons Committee Chairman, Meg Hillier, expressed concerns that British residents could struggle to find ID.
She said: “I have constituents who have no photo IDs.
“Because they have never travelled they have no passport, they have no driver’s licence because they have never driven, they still live at home because they can’t afford to move out so they’ve never had a utility bill in their name.
“Perfectly entitled to health care – British born, British resident – how are you going to make sure that people have access easily to the NHS without having to go through a very humiliating and impossible-to-meet set of demands?”
Mr Wormald responded: “This is why we are going very slowly on some of these questions and individual trusts are trying these out.”
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