The WWL Way
Telephone: 01942 244 000

Pioneering Overseas Visitor Initiative at WWL

Newsdate: 12 February 2014

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) are delighted to announce that we have volunteered to be pioneers for the European Health Income programme (EHIP).  This is a Government body working with key organisations such as the Department of Work and Pensions and partnered with the NHS to reclaim treatment received by European visitors during visits to hospitals in England.

Rob Forster the Trust’s Director of Finance is the Senior Sponsor of the EHIP for the North West and is also part of the NHS Leadership team.  Rob says: “This is very exciting for WWL as we are the first Trust outside of London to be invited to participate in discussions with EHIP in how to make this initiative a success”.

Rob continues: “All NHS Trusts have a legal obligation to establish if a person is an overseas visitor, if they are, we have a moral and ethical obligation to recoup the costs back to the United Kingdom and indeed to WWL.  We are now replicating what happens to English patients who go on their holidays abroad and need to use health services in countries like Spain and others in Europe.  A patient holidaying in Europe would need to present their European Health Insurance card to obtain treatment and in order for that country to be reimbursed from the UK. This initiative allows UK hospitals to do the same.

Collette Ryan, Trust  Local Anti-Fraud Specialist  and Overseas Visitor Co-ordinator adds: “What we have started to do differently here at WWL is ask all our patients baseline questions to determine whether they are eligible for free NHS treatment.

What we do, is ask the following two questions to all our patients, including European visitors:

1. Have you lived consistently in the UK for last 12 months?
2. How long have you lived in the UK?

If the patient has not consistently lived in the UK for the last 12 months, the Overseas Visitors team are contacted and they do the relevant follow up checks to ensure eligibility to free NHS treatment.

Collette continues: “This is fantastic news for both the Trust and genuine NHS patients. Since the launch of the scheme in December 2013, we have managed to reclaim over £27,000.00 which can be re-used on patient services and we envisage re-claiming more monies in the coming months which can reinvest to improve our services and care.

What we have started to implement at WWL from 2014 onwards:

  • Policy approved
  • Staff Training - on-going
  • Flowchart of process – issued to staff
  • Email address for 24/7 access – OverseasVisitorsEnquiries@wwl.nhs.uk
  • Bespoke telephone number – 01942 264800 (ext 4800)
  • Overseas Visitor Co-ordinators
  • Mobile document scanners
  • Awareness campaign trust wide
  • Literature changes – outpatient letters and leaflets
  • Overseas Visitor Patient/Staff Leaflet (available in different languages)
  • Overseas Awareness campaign planned