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Drug and Alcohol Services available to migrants without charge

Migrants will not be charged for drug and alcohol services equivalent to ‘primary medical services’ following amendments to the Department for Health and Social Care’s Guidance on implementing the overseas visitors charging regulations.

The revised Guidance clarifies that drug and alcohol services can be considered equivalent to ‘primary medical services’ which are exempt from charge to any overseas visitor. Previously the Guidance had been vague on what services could be considered as ‘equivalent to primary medical services’, but the amendments made on the 24 December 2018 explicitly refer to drug and alcohol treatment as an example of such care.

John Jolly, CEO of Blenheim said, “This is a significant positive change in government guidance which Blenheim welcomes.  Along with other organisations in the sector Blenheim has been seeking urgent clarification of the position of foreign nationals for some time. The Change will enable drug and alcohol services to provide treatment to anyone who needs it, irrespective of who they are and where they come from. The changes also remove the uncertainty for EU nationals in treatment as we approach Brexit. Making equal access to treatment and the opportunity for change possible is so important to us at Blenheim where we advocate that the opportunity to change is a right, not a privilege.”

The Guidance stipulates pharmacotherapy and behavioural support can be considered ‘primary medical services’ which amounts to most drug and alcohol treatments including clinical support and wider behavioural aspects of mental and psychosocial care. This means most drug and alcohol treatments could be available to migrants without charge; the exception is the provision of inpatient care such as residential rehabilitation units which the Guidance explicitly states is not considered equivalent to primary care.

To read in detail, you can find the revised guidance here.

Pages 27 and 36 reference drug and alcohol services.

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