Proof of ID may be needed for NHS care; Dr Saif Abed comments

Imprivata, the healthcare IT security company has stated that biometric patient identification could replace passport ID. In response to today’s story on BBC News that proof of ID may be required for NHS patients in order to combat health tourism. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38060432, Dr Saif Abed, Medical Director EMEA at Imprivata commented;

“While unidentified health tourism is no doubt an issue, certainly for some NHS Trusts more than others, it is a small percentage of the overall health budget. Having said that, given the financial pressure that the NHS is under, we should look at every possible way to streamline services and to save money. As the NHS is currently set to digitise records, use of biometric technology for patient identification will provide many benefits, including ensuring that patients are entitled to treatment.

“Once a patient has agreed to have their biometric information, such as a palm vein scan which is easy to administer, to be linked to their medical records, there would be no need for a passport, or indeed any other form of identification. As well as combating health tourism, this would also significantly streamline patient admissions, and avoid medical or prescribing errors due to patient misidentification.”

Committee chairwoman Meg Hillier raised concerns that some British residents might not have passports or other ID.

The BBC reported an estimates £2bn a year is spent on treating overseas visitors. The figure includes the cost of GP care, emergency treatment and routine hospital services, such as scans, maternity care and non-emergency operations.