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In March 2004, parliament passed amendments to the overseas visitors legislation, which came into effect from April 2004. According to the Department of Health guidelines, overseas visitors are eligible for free National Health Service (NHS) secondary medical services in certain circumstances.1 Free NHS treatment may be afforded to overseas visitors if the patient has one of several diseases that require treatment in the interests of public health, such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, or as a result of a referral to a sexually transmitted diseases clinic. In the case of HIV/AIDS, this includes only the initial diagnostic tests and associated counselling.1 The regulations place a legal obligation on secondary care providers to establish whether a patient is eligible for free NHS hospital treatment, and, if not, a charge must be applied. Patients who have made a formal asylum application are entitled to free care. People who have applied for leave to remain, however, are liable for healthcare charges either until they have been granted leave to remain or until they have been lawfully living in the country for a period of 12 months awaiting a decision on leave …
Competing interests: None.
Informed consent has been obtained from the patient. The views contained in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust.