As the rules about access to health services for asylum seekers and refugees can change, it is advised that you check the Department of Health website for the most current information. The Department of Health Website also has available a printable health leaflet called Introduction to the National Health Service  (only available on the internet) in 43 different languages The Directgov website - Health and Wellbeing section has information regarding all aspects of health and accessing health services in the UK.

Under the 2012 Guidance on charging for hospital treatment for overseas visitors:

  • Anyone granted temporary protection, asylum or humanitarian protection under the immigration rules made under section 3(2) of the Immigration Act 1971 is recognised as a refugee and is exempt from charges.
  • Anyone who has made a formal application with the Home Office to be granted temporary protection, asylum or humanitarian protection which has not yet been determined is also exempt.
  • A person who has had their asylum/humanitarian protection application and all appeals rejected becomes a ‘failed asylum seeker’. They will become liable for charges for their NHS hospital treatment at that point, even if they have been here for more than one year, unless one of the following situations applies to them:
    • Failed asylum seekers who are being supported by the UK Border Agency under ‘Section 4’ or ‘Section 95’ of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 are exempt from charges. 
    • A failed asylum seeker who makes a fresh application for asylum, temporary protection or humanitarian protection will become an asylum seeker again and will therefore be exempt from charge again until that new application is considered. Charges will still apply during any period between the first application, including appeals, being rejected and the second, fresh application being lodged with the Home Office.
    • Any particular course of treatment underway when an asylum seeker’s application, including all appeals, is rejected, or when a failed asylum seeker stops receiving UKBA Section 4 or 95 support, will continue free of charge until that treatment concludes or the person leaves the country. However, they must be charged for any new courses of treatment.  Regardless of the lack of advance payment, treatment must not be withheld if it is medically considered immediately necessary or urgent in that it cannot wait until the patient can reasonably return home.   NHS bodies have the option to write off debts when a person is genuinely without funds.
  • Children who are in the care of the Local Authority under the Children Act 1989 are exempt from charges. There may be occasions when a relevant NHS body treats an overseas visitor child who it believes should be in the care of the Local Authority and that child is subsequently taken into the care of the Local Authority.   Relevant NHS bodies are reminded of their option to write off debts.
  • The spouse/civil partner and/or dependent children of an exempt overseas visitor will also be exempt provided that they are lawfully present on a permanent basis with the overseas visitor whilst the overseas visitor is residing in the UK.

Examples of evidence that may be required are:

  • Confirmation from Home Office of refugee status/Temporary Protection having been granted;
  • Valid Application Registration Card (ARC) issued by Home Office;
  • Confirmation from Home Office that asylum application or application for humanitarian protection on protection from serious harm grounds is still under consideration;
  • Confirmation that the failed asylum seeker is being supported by the UKBA under Section 4 or Section 95 support
  • Confirmation that a child is in the care of the Local Authority.

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