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Debates and questions

S5W-28645: Angela Constance (Almond Valley)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 22 April 2020

To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to encourage migrants and others to seek NHS treatment when they suspect they have contracted COVID-19, including those who may be reluctant to do so due to their immigration status in the UK.

Answered by: Jeane Freeman 23 April 2020

At the end of January this year we amended the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Scotland) Regulations 1989, to ensure that anyone seeking treatment for coronavirus in Scotland, regardless of their nationality or immigration status, is entitled to receive such treatment without charge. This is regardless of whether or not they have approached the NHS for healthcare in the past. They should follow the national guidance on accessing coronavirus treatment in exactly the same way as those who are ordinarily resident in Scotland.

The provision of healthcare in Scotland is, of course a matter for the Scottish Government and is in no way linked to immigration, which, at this time, is the responsibility of the Home Office. Anyone who requires urgent or immediate NHS treatment in Scotland will receive it, regardless of their ability to pay when charges apply. And there is no question of their details being passed to the Home Office by NHS Scotland for immigration enforcement purposes.

My officials have updated the Scottish Covid-19 guidance on the Scottish Government and NHSinform web pages to further highlight that coronavirus treatment is available to everyone without charge, and that our NHS, which is focused on saving lives and containing Covid-19, does not share patients’ details with the Home Office for immigration enforcement purposes. This information will also be relayed to third sector organisations that support migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and others who may be reluctant to seek NHS treatment for whatever reason.