R (MP) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

Case name: MP v Secretary of State for Health

NHS regulations require most non-EU citizens to pay up to 150 percent of the cost of healthcare treatment. A man who was being treated for cancer challenged this in the courts, arguing that the regulations did not comply with equality laws.

Legal issue

Had the Secretary of State for Health adequately considered the equality impacts of these regulations?

Background

A man with blood cancer was receiving NHS chemotherapy treatment, which he was responding well to.

The next stage of his treatment was a stem cell transplant. Under healthcare regulations introduced in 2017, he was required to pay up to 150 percent of the estimated cost of his treatment upfront and for any community healthcare he might need.

Because of his immigration status, he had to pay for his NHS treatment.

He challenged this in the Administrative Court, arguing that the regulations didn’t comply with the Equality Act.

Why we were involved

The public sector equality duty is an important part of the Equality Act, requiring public bodies to consider whether their policies are discriminatory and think about the impact they have on people who may be disadvantaged.

According to the 2017 healthcare regulations, most non-EU citizens can be charged for certain NHS treatment.

We were concerned that the Secretary of State for Health hadn’t adequately considered the impact of these regulations on particular groups including disabled people, the elderly and pregnant women.

Ultimately, we wanted to ensure that healthcare is available to people who need it, free from discrimination.

What we did

We intervened in the case, which is when we can provide the court with expert advice or evidence. We argued that the Secretary of State for Health had failed to meet the requirements of the public sector equality duty.

What happened

The case was unsuccessful. The Judge disagreed with us that the public sector equality duty had been breached.

Who will benefit and how

We want to ensure that all public bodies operate in a way that is fair and non-discriminatory, especially when it comes to disadvantaged or vulnerable groups.

Although the outcome of this case is disappointing, we will continue to fight to ensure that public bodies comply with equality laws and we will challenge them where we think they are failing.

Date of hearing