NHS wrongly billing vulnerable migrants for maternity care

Maternity Action has said that NHS trusts are wrongly hounding vulnerable migrant women for payment of bills of thousands of pounds for maternity care.

A new report by the charity is urging the government to suspend maternity charging for migrants, after finding multiple examples of trusts wrongly billing extremely vulnerable migrant women for their maternity care.

While ‘hostile environment’ rules say that migrant women must be charged at 150 per cent of the rate charged to NHS clinical commissioning groups that purchase maternity care from hospital trusts, there are exceptions for certain vulnerable groups such as trafficked women, asylum seekers and women who are destitute.

The report raises concerns about the aggressive way some NHS trusts go about recouping the money, saying that the language used in communications to patients ‘are overtly hostile and not in the spirit of patient-centred care which the NHS strives to achieve’.

Ros Bragg, the director of Maternity Action, said: “We’ve found multiple examples of women being charged when they should be exempt and of NHS trusts aggressively chasing payments of women who are clearly destitute and have no means to pay.

“It’s hard to overstate the impact of maternity charging on the health of mothers and their babies. Our advice lines are full of terrified women, scared to go to antenatal appointments in case they are charged, even if they’re supposed to be exempt.”

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