Access to healthcare and social security benefits.
People who ordinarily live in Ukraine will be able to access NHS services at no charge on the same basis as people living in Scotland.
An amendment to current legislation will ensure that people who have fled Ukraine can access services such as maternity care, mental health services and treatment for specific conditions at no charge while they remain here.
This will also apply to people from Ukraine who were in Scotland on short-term visas when the conflict began and who apply to extend or switch visas because they cannot return home.
Anyone in Scotland, regardless of their nationality, residence status or length of time they will be in the country, is already entitled to receive emergency treatment at an A&E or casualty department, and can register with a GP Practice to receive general medical services, at no charge.
In addition, emergency legislation which came into force on Tuesday 22 March will allow people coming to Scotland from Ukraine to meet residency conditions for Scottish social security benefits. This means that those fleeing war in Ukraine, and who are eligible, will have immediate access to benefits such as Scottish Child Payment and Child Disability Payment.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said:
“We are determined to do everything in our power to give displaced people from Ukraine the warmest welcome possible when they arrive and this includes offering healthcare to those who need it.
“We fully recognise that they may have been through very traumatic experiences and could require specialist treatment and care. Removing charges for healthcare and providing access to benefits is a practical step in ensuring those who have been forced to flee their homes and country can live safely and comfortably in Scotland for as long as they need to.”
Under current provisions in the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) (Scotland) Regulations 1989, anyone who makes an application for asylum in the UK or who has been granted asylum status, is eligible to access the full range of NHS services in Scotland at no charge.
However, without this amendment to the regulations, people from Ukraine arriving in the UK, under the UK Government’s announced visa routes for those fleeing the conflict, would be charged for some services provided by NHS Scotland.
The exemption from charges introduced to the 1989 regulations applies to all people who are ordinarily resident in Ukraine and are lawfully present in the UK. The exemption also applies to those peoples’ spouses, civil partners or children. This approach ensures that the exemption is consistent across the available visa routes. The exemption will also cover people who are ordinarily resident in Ukraine and were already in the UK on short-term visas when the conflict began, on 24 February 2022, and are extending or switching their visas because they cannot return to Ukraine.
The Scottish Government will keep the exemption from NHS charges under review as the crisis in Ukraine develops, taking into account any further visa schemes which may announced by the UK government for people fleeing the conflict.
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