Migrants due to pay surgery surcharge

Hospital ward image

NHS charging patients from outside the UK to recover funding

In a bid to stamp out ‘health tourism’, the NHS are planning to charge EU and non-EU nationals for using Britain’s free at the point of delivery health service.

Patients from outside of the EU could potentially be charged 150% of the cost of treatment in the NHS, as the UK seeks to reclaim costs of treating migrants – which is currently costing the NHS £2 billion a year.

Currently, foreign visitors can receive free NHS care immediately, or soon after they arrive in the UK, but are expected to repay the cost of any procedures afterwards. However, many trusts don’t implement this cost recovery due to the time and money involved in tracking patients down.

Paying for healthcare

As of next year, trusts will be able to charge 150% of the normal cost of treatment for non-EU patients who are non permanent residents in the UK.  Non-UK citizens who are lawfully entitled to reside in the UK and usually live in the country will be entitled to free NHS care as they are now, but temporary migrants from outside Europe who are in the UK for longer than six months, either to work or study, will have to pay a new surcharge when they submit an application for leave to enter or remain in the UK.

While NHS Trusts charge non-EU patients directly, the government pays hospitals for procedures on EU patients, with the money being recovered from other EU member states.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt told BBC News “We have no problem with international visitors using the NHS as long as they pay for it – just as British families do through their taxes. These plans will help recoup up to £500m a year, making sure the NHS is better resourced and more sustainable at a time when doctors and nurses on the front line are working very hard.”