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‘Worrying failings’ in the administration of the NHS maternity charging programme

Maternity Action’s new research has found worrying failings in the administration of the NHS charging programme, leaving vulnerable women anxious and fearful about debts they cannot pay and deterring them from attending for care.

Maternity Action’s new report Breach of Trust: a review of the implementation of the NHS charging programme in maternity services in England details how the implementation of the government’s NHS charging ‘overseas visitors’ programme within NHS Trusts poses a significant risk to migrant women’s health and wellbeing.

The government insists that women who are vulnerable are adequately protected because the regulations make certain vulnerable groups exempt from NHS charging, such as refugees, asylum seekers, women who have been victims of modern slavery. The government have also stated that all maternity care should be deemed ‘immediately necessary’ and not refused due to an inability to repay.

However the report has found that these legal safeguards are simply not working upon implementation in Trust settings. Many migrant women living in the UK are put at risk because they are deterred from accessing essential maternity care.

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Source: Maternity Action, 16 September 2021


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