New Charges Set For Non-EU Migrants Using the NHS
Plans to introduce NHS charges for non-EU migrants are due to be announced in the Queen’s Speech, in an attempt to save the government up to £500 million per year.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to introduce the charges for primary care services such as scans, eye care, ambulance trips and NHS dental services for those non-EU migrants entering the UK.
According to The Telegraph previous attempts to introduce such charges have been rejected by ministers who fear new arrivals may be deterred from seeking treatment for communicable diseases.
Currently the charges, according to The Immigration Act 2014, for non-EEA temporary migrants, such as workers, students or family members, who do not have indefinite leave to remain, is an obligatory ‘health surcharge’ in addition to the visa application fee. The migrant is then entitled to free NHS services for the duration of the visa. Visitor visa holders cannot pay the surcharge in order to get access to free NHS care.
According to the government so-called ‘health tourism’ costs the NHS about £200 million a year. However, the NHS Support Federation said the value of work performed on non-EU patients could only be estimated, adding: “Why focus effort on this at the cost of pursuing tax avoidance on a colossal scale by corporations and the super rich?”
The bill outlining the new proposals will be published on 18th May.