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Health tourism crackdown

1st March 2010

The government has said people who visit the UK could be told they must have health insurance before being allowed to come into the country.


The health service is keen to decrease the number of 'health tourists' who visit the UK to receive healthcare but then do not pay for it.

Another plan for immigration would see people who owed money for health bills stopped from entering the UK.

People who visit the country from abroad pay the NHS £25 million annually, but £5 million is left unpaid every year.

Data from the Department of Health has shown that half the unpaid sums are not settled within a year and around 5% of patients from abroad had three or more unpaid bills to their name.

Immigration minister Phil Woolas said the government believed that patients who took "advantage of our hospitality should respect that hospitality or face consequences".

He added: "For the first time the UK's immigration rules would state explicitly that a record of failing to discharge payment obligations to the National Health Service will impact upon a person's ability to enter and stay in this country."

Health minister Mike O'Brien said: "Whilst the NHS has a duty to any person whose life or long-term health is at immediate risk, we cannot afford to be an international health service, providing free treatment for all."


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Wednesday 3rd March 2010 @ 21:12

From someone in the frontline of a London Trust I think 5 million is a somewhat 'conservative' assumption of unpaid fees (pardon the pun) and that we will never really know the total amount that 'healthcare tourism' costs the NHS.

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Article Information

Title: Health tourism crackdown
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 14210
Date Added: 1st Mar 2010


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