Under a new change in the law, every NHS trust will now be required to charge foreign patients up-front for their care, unless their condition is life-threatening. According to the Health Secretary, this change in the law will come into effect from April this year. This will not affect patients who are already eligible for non-urgent care.
Dr Julia Reid MEP, who has previously worked for the NHS as a research biochemist, said: “For far too long now, the Government have been burying their heads in the sand with regards to the issue of health tourism. It’s about time they put the ‘national’ back into the National Health Service.
“Although the clamp down on health tourism is long overdue, I’m glad to see the Government are finally introducing yet another common-sense UKIP policy.”
With this new change in the law, people flying to the UK for non-urgent treatment such as hip operations and cataract removal may now be denied treatment unless they agree to pay for the service. The latest figures also suggest that around 50,000 women a year giving birth in NHS maternity hospitals are temporary migrants or visitors who have come to the UK to give birth, whilst the British tax-payer picks up the bill. Under the new law; Medics, GPs and receptionists will also be required to flag overseas visitors who are not entitled to free NHS care.
The Health Secretary has said the clampdown will save the NHS around £500 million a year which he claims will be reinvested in patient care. However, as it’s near impossible to produce a figure with total accuracy, research in Whitehall suggests the true cost could be anywhere between £500million and £2billion a year.
Although this new law will almost guarantee to help reduce the burden that is being placed upon the NHS by health tourism, it won’t negate the whole problem, as those who have life-threatening conditions will still be treated, and rightly so. Therefore, UKIP recommend that the Government fully implement UKIP’s policy which states that; all migrants and visitors who come to Britain must have approved medical insurance.
Dr Julia Reid MEP concluded by saying, “Many of the countries with most unpaid NHS bills aren’t even necessarily that much worse off than ourselves. The USA, India and China are the third, fourth and fifth worst offenders with regards to unpaid NHS bills and yet all 3 have managed to find enough money to fund their own space programmes.”
“The health-tourism clampdown marks yet another victory for the British taxpayer who have been taken advantage of for far too long.”