News story

Visitors’ and migrants’ access to NHS: independent adviser appointed

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Sir Keith Pearson appointed to advise Department of Health on recovery of NHS costs from overseas visitors and migrants.

Sir Keith, who is Chair of Health Education England, will work with senior NHS leaders to achieve a more effective NHS in terms of:

  • raising awareness of eligibility rules
  • identifying patients who are not eligible for free NHS care (‘chargeable patients’)
  • better cost recovery
  • discouraging abuse of the system

He will also ensure that new rules for charging are effective for use on the NHS frontline.

Sir Keith said:

The NHS has a statutory duty to ensure that any money owed by overseas visitors is returned to the system but many are clearly failing in this duty.

We know that the first duty of health professionals is to treat the individual patient in front of them but they also have a responsibility to protect the NHS for the future and ensure best use of its resources.

Alongside his advisory role, Sir Keith will chair a group of external experts who will review and shape the department’s implementation plans on visitor and migrant NHS cost recovery and provide strategic leadership for the implementation programme.

Sir Keith, who is a former Chair of NHS East of England and the NHS Confederation, has more than 30 years’ experience in both the public and private healthcare sectors in England and abroad.