British Medical Journal: New proposals make the NHS the most restrictive healthcare system in Europe for undocumented migrants
The Department of Health is planning to extend charges on migrants into emergency departments and primary health services. Medics and researchers writing for the British Medical Journal have warned:
"Although the government asserts that the NHS is “overly generous to those who have only a temporary relationship with the UK,” these proposals will make the NHS a highly restrictive healthcare system for migrants to access care and treatment. Of particular concern is the effect on the thousands of undocumented migrants living without legal status in the UK, who are often marginalised, vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and have poor health outcomes." 
There has an outpouring of concern for how these measures will affect the thousands of undocumented individuals living in the UK without legal status.
The Migrants' Rights Network welcomed the BMJ group's conclusions, stating:
targeting undocumented migrants raises concerns because many of them will be unable to pay. The policy also has implications for both individual and public health and run contrary to other national strategies, including engaging high risk migrant groups in screening for latent tuberculosis. 
The BMJ report also stated:
The 2013 consultation, which launched the NHS visitor and migrant cost recovery programme, was framed in the context of restricting services and making the UK a “hostile environment” for undocumented migrants. It was debated alongside the 2014 Immigration Bill, described by the Migrants’ Rights Network as “the most draconian challenge to the rights of migrants, and the communities they live in, for a generation.” Phases 1-3 of the 2014-16 implementation plan have so far introduced incentives for services to identify chargeable patients, piloted the recovery of costs for European economic area (EEA) nationals, and introduced a 150% tariff in secondary care for non-EEA nationals and the immigration health surcharge. In addition, information sharing is now taking place between the NHS and Home Office systems to improve the identification of chargeable migrants and for immigration enforcement.
The group also insisted that as well making the UK's system incredibly restrictive and putting off migrants and undocumented individuals from seeking much needed healthcare, the new measures are also unworkable, as has been proved in other countries where such measures were implemented:
What is alarming in this latest consultation is the commitment to expand charging into emergency services. For many undocumented migrants, the emergency department represents their only source of government funded primary and secondary healthcare, alongside limited provision from non-governmental organisations such as Doctors of the World; for some vulnerable migrants,including victims of trafficking, the emergency department provides a safe and anonymous place to present. Migrants in the UK already face known barriers to registering with primary care services, leaving them few options. Currently, most other European countries allow undocumented migrants to access free care through emergency departments. In Spain and Sweden, where more restrictive access arrangements were introduced, the governments subsequently reversed the decision because they were unworkable and excluding migrants from healthcare and screening created numerous health risks.
Doctors of the World also released a briefing opposing the charges.
Read the full briefing here.
The BMJ article called for 'robust research' to be carried into the cost effectiveness and health implications of expanding charging systems further, before implementation.
The government should refrain from making policy decisions to address the NHS’ financial problems based on populist reactions, through targeting undocumented migrants for charging, rather than on robust evidence.