Published on 30/04/2012
Campaigners warn that the NHS risks becoming a ‘world health service’ as visitors to the country are claiming free treatment.
Migration Watch UK has highlighted the risk of ‘health tourism’ as it is revealed that foreign nationals who arrive in England on a six-month visitor’s visa can receive health care immediately.
The rule was confirmed in response to a parliamentary written question asked by Labour MP Frank Field. Ministers have also confirmed that GPs do not need to ask prospective patients for ID or proof of addressing when registering them.
This means that someone arriving in the UK with a visitor’s visa can access GP services without paying anything towards the NHS. Over one and a half million visitor’s visas were issued last year.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the organisation, said that there is no formal requirement to provide documentation when registering with a GP.
“A decision on whether to register a foreign national who has a six-month visitor visa is therefore currently for the GP to consider.”
Migration Watch UK warns that thousands of illegal immigrants may be receiving NHS care because of this rule. Currently, £10m a year is lost to foreign nationals who fail to pay back the cost of their treatment.
The Government says it is looking at ways to tackle the growing cost of health tourism. Under the proposals, foreigners could be charged for visiting a GP, or forced to take out a health insurance policy.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012Categories: NHS and Hospitals