close menu

UK clamps down on health tourists

by 1st Contact | Nov 04, 2013
  • The UK government is finally taking steps to recover money spent by the NHS (National Health Service) on “health tourists,” according to UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
    Immigration

     

    An independent study on migrant access to NHS healthcare in England, conducted for the Department of Health, says the NHS could save £500 million a year if it charged foreign nationals a £200 levy to use its services. This is in response to the growing trend of health tourism, i.e. people who specifically travel to the UK to receive free care for pre-existing conditions.

    The NHS has some of the most generous rules in the world; at present, only hospitals are required to charge for services, although their emergency care is free. According to the study, health tourists, including pregnant women who come to the UK just prior to giving birth, cost the NHS at least £70m annually. It’s estimated that a further £388 million could be recovered by charging those patients who should be liable to pay, but otherwise slip through the cracks.

    £200 surcharge for migrants

    The figures from the study were released just ahead of the government’s second reading of the Immigration Bill, which aims to introduce stricter measures to stop abuse of public services.

    A key measure in the bill will see temporary migrants pay for access to the NHS through an annual NHS surcharge of £150 for foreign students and £200 for temporary migrants. According to the NHS, this will generate £200m a year. A new cost recovery unit would also work to recoup money owed by other governments for treating foreign nationals.

    “NHS not an international service”

    Health Minister Jeremy Hunt told Sky News that the NHS is not an ‘international’ service. “I have absolutely no problem at all with foreigners and international visitors using the NHS, but if they are not contributing to it through their taxes they should make a fair contribution in another way,” said Hunt.

    Opposition to surcharge

    The announcement has been met with mixed reactions. Leading surgeon Professor J Meirion warns that the £200 surcharge would create the “best travel insurance on the planet.” He further called the move a “disaster” and said that allowing visitors and students to pay £150 or £200 at the border for access to health services would simply attract more health tourists.

    Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as well as York University conducted their own research, which seems to contradict that of the Department of Health. According to this study, so called “health tourists” spent an estimated £219m on hotels, restaurants, shopping and transport in the UK. The research also found that there are more people leaving the UK to seek medical treatment abroad than arriving for treatment.

    What do you think? Let us know in the comments section.

    If you’re looking to head to the UK, 1st Contact Visas; Immigration department on 0808 141 1663 (free phone within the UK), 020 7759 7500 (outside the UK), or email us for all your visa, tax and migration-related queries.

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

    • kangaroos
      Two new Aussie visa routes for skilled migrants
      May 23, 2019  |  by Sam Hopwood
    • travel insurance
      The importance of purchasing travel insurance with a Tier 4 UK student visa
      May 07, 2019  |  by Guest writer
    • Passport-stamp
      25% of UK spouse visa applications are refused every year – make sure yours isn’t one
      Apr 02, 2019  |  by Sam Hopwood
    • UK flag with calculator
      How to calculate your costs before you immigrate to the UK
      Mar 29, 2019  |  by John Dunn
    • businessman multitasking
      Everything we know about the new Tier 1 Innovator visa
      Mar 29, 2019  |  by John Dunn
    • british moving van
      Shipping household goods from South Africa to the UK, what you need to know
      Mar 29, 2019  |  by Leanne Shrosbree
    • City-of-london
      Applying for a UK visa from Australia and New Zealand – what you need to know to avoid being refused
      Mar 20, 2019  |  by Sam Hopwood
    • UK Tier 1 visas set to change
      Investors out, innovators in: UK Tier 1 visas set to change
      Feb 19, 2019  |  by Gary Kockott
    • recruitment
      The UK reveals its new skills-based immigration system for EU and non-EU nationals
      Jan 22, 2019  |  by John Dunn
    • London-flag
      Why so many people moved to the UK in 2018
      Dec 12, 2018  |  by John Dunn
     
     

    South Africa

    Cape Town

    Regent Square
    Doncaster Road
    Kenilworth 7708 +27 (0) 21 657 2120

    Durban

    25 Richefond Circle
    Ridgeside
    Umhlanga 4320 +27 (0) 31 536 8843

    United Kingdom

    Croydon

    One Croydon
    12-16 Addiscombe Road
    Croydon CR0 0XT +44 (0) 20 7759 7514

    Australia

    Melbourne

    9 Yarra Street
    South Yarra
    VIC 3141 +613 (0) 8651 4500

    Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services Licence issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS Licence number 335 126).

    We use cookies to provide the best website experience for you. Using this website means that you agree to this. How we use cookies.