The Department of Health has published updated help to recover the costs of overseas visitors and migrants.
The guidance includes advice for primary care staff providing healthcare for visitors from the European Economic Area (EEA) and templates for letters asking for patient information.
The guidance explains the different documents which can be used by visitors from EEA countries.
These include the European Health insurance Card (EHIC), formerly known as E111 which allows the UK to recover costs of NHS healthcare which cannot wait until a patient returns home.
Patients might also have the Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) or the S1 for people on state benefits such as survivors benefits and some disability benefits.
The S1 has to be registered with the Overseas Healthcare team at the Department of Work and Pensions.
Although it is a patients’ responsibility to register it, the DH advises that primary care staff should check if a patient has the card or is eligible for one. Practices can also offer to post the form, the DH said.
Registration means the NHS automatically recovers £4,500 each year.
Patients may also have the S2, formerly known as the E112, if they decide to have their healthcare such as hospital treatment in a different EEA country from their home.
The guidance explains the role of primary care staff in helping to recover the costs of hospital treatment for visitors.
It stressed that no one can de charged directly for NHS primary health care.
“If you are aware that a patient is chargeable or holds an ECHIC, S1 or S2, it is helpful if you let the hospital know this when referring the patient to secondary care. The hospital’s overseas visitor manager will use this information to recover the costs of care provided in hospital,” it explained.