Any person of any nationality who is not ordinarily resident in the UK at the time of treatment is an ‘Overseas Visitor’ and may be charged for the treatment they receive at Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.
Overseas visitors that opt to have planned elective treatment are classed as private patients. It is the role of the Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) Overseas Team to determine whether a patient is eligible for free NHS healthcare or whether they are a chargeable NHS patient.
- Free Emergency Treatment
Some NHS services are free to everyone regardless of the status of the patient including family planning services and certain communicable diseases. Treatment at Accident & Emergency is free only up until the point an overseas visitor is accepted as an inpatient or given an outpatient appointment. This means that free emergency treatment is limited to the treatment administered in A&E. Further emergency treatment after admission to a WWL NHS FT hospital is not free. An overseas visitor may still be charged if they are admitted and continue to receive emergency treatment including intensive care or coronary care. Patients will not be told by anyone that charges will not apply, until this is formally established by the Overseas Team.
Why WWL must identify overseas visitors
The NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2011 place a legal obligation on WWL to establish whether a person is an overseas visitor to whom charges apply or whether they are exempt from charges for the NHS services provided. When charges apply, WWL must charge the person liable for the costs of the NHS services and recover the cost from them. If charges apply, they can be waived, if the Overseas Team finds them not chargeable after the initial invoice has been raised.
- Immediately Necessary and Urgent Treatment
Failure to provide immediately necessary treatment may be unlawful under the Human Rights Act 1998. WWL Trust will never withhold treatment which is considered by clinicians to be immediately necessary irrespective of whether or not the patient has been informed of, or agreed to pay, charges. Treatment which is not immediately necessary, but is nevertheless classed as urgent by clinicians, since it cannot wait until the overseas visitor can return home, will also be provided. Only clinicians may determine whether treatment is immediately necessary, urgent or non-urgent. Treatment is not made free of charge by virtue of being provided on an immediately necessary or urgent basis.
- Overseas Visitor Team
Collette Ryan (Overseas Visitor Officer)
Tel: 01257 256204 (Office)
Overseas Visitor Team - Contact Number: 01942 264800 (ext. 4800)
NHS hospital treatment is not free for everyone.