Do You Need a Passport to Live in Your Own Country?

December 8th, 2016 | Posted by Lynn Strother in Health

You really have to admire the Government and NHS England for their proliferation of ideas to make life harder.  There must be hundreds employed just to design daft procedures… though I suppose it brings the unemployment figures down at least!

The latest wheeze? You’ll need to show your passport if you want to use the NHS.

Does this mean you’ll have to show your passport before the ambulance service will cross your threshold?! Will it only be when you register with a GP, or do you have to bring your passport for each visit? Does this also include showing your passport to see the practice nurse?  Can you get your flu jab without a passport? Does this cover NHS Pharmacies and dentists?  What about NHS community services such a physios and speech therapists etc?

The list is never ending – and that’s before you cross the hallowed doors of a hospital.

You will also have to provide another form of identification as well, such as utility bills.  Before long utility companies will be charging us to provide the bills!  Also aren’t the government trying to persuade us all to go paperless?!  Where will we get these utility bills from then?!

Why has this come about?

The reason is that people from abroad who should pay for their NHS care in the main are not being charged.  This is not the fault of those who come from abroad – they are not even being asked for the money!  And in any case, many trusts feel the cost of the administration outweighs the money recovered.

At present it is for overseas patients who are not eligible for free treatment for non-urgent care but the government is now looking at including A&E departments, ambulance services, GP and maternity services.

In October 2016 the National Audit Office found NHS Trusts collected £255 million of at least £500 million spent on treatment for overseas visitors.  Research last year suggests that the UK is paying £15 for the healthcare costs of Britons who fall ill abroad for every £1 it gets back for the treatment of European visitors.

Yes – I think we can all agree that people from overseas should pay for non-urgent treatment and especially those who come especially to access health care. We pay when we are abroad so why not the same for those who come to this country? But for UK Citizens to be treated as if they did not belong to this country?  This is outrageous.

Do you remember recently we had a campaign against the banks who demanded a passport to enable you to get your own money out of the bank?  It looks as if we are now going to have to campaign on this issue too.

It is not just older people who do not have this identification – many people in London do not drive so have no driving licence. For those who have a driving licence, it is only accepted if it includes a photograph.

Many people of all ages and all communities do not have passports. So now we go back to the questions that were used in respect of banking – why do you need a passport to live in your own country?!  Furthermore, many people do not have utility bills in their name – do people in care homes have utility bills for example? What about those who are renting or staying in other living accommodation?

Plus, isn’t it rather humiliating and disproportionate to ask every patient seeking treatment for identification?  Would you remember to take your passport and utility bill with you when you pop out to the shops?!  What if you had an accident – no treatment?!

I think it will also increase the crime rate – if thieves/bag snatchers/muggers know people will have all forms of identification with them, then isn’t there a greater risk to the general public?

What can we suggest to the Government?

When I registered with my GP I was given a medical card with my name, address, date of birth and NHS number – why can’t this be used as one piece of identification?

Similarly, older people could use the card given to people from Department of Social Security which states that you are entitled to a state pension.

Will your bus pass be counted, seeing as it has a photo? Why not the EHIC card? After all, it is issued to eligible people by the NHS and is used to allow EU health services to bill the NHS for the services provided overseas.  So if the NHS has decided that you are entitled to services abroad, why can’t you use the card in this country to ensure your entitlement in your own country?!

Aside from the difficulties that it will cause patients, spare a thought for the NHS staff, what a nightmare for them! Staff will have to try and work out what is acceptable ID and what isn’t, as well as determining if you are a foreign national residing in the UK with a NI number and NHS number.

Won’t it just confuse everyone further if they present a foreign passport?

It is not the so called policy makers in the government sitting in their cosy offices 9 – 5, but the front line staff working 24 hours a day seven days a week who will have to try and unravel another government mess. All the while continuing to care for people who are ill, vulnerable and possibly scared.


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