#AceNewsReport – May.13: But now a Mail on Sunday investigation has established the plans have been shelved: Checks to stop health tourists coming to Britain for treatment they are not entitled to – which costs the NHS up to £280 million every year – have been all but abandoned” Ministers had promised to crack down on overseas visitors abusing the NHS by making it a legal requirement for hospitals to charge upfront those not entitled to free care.
In 2017, the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced rules legally obliging hospitals to charge patients upfront for ‘non-urgent’ treatment
Under strict rules, patients were to be asked to prove their eligibility by showing a passport and evidence of a permanent UK address: Pregnant women, thought to account for the majority of health tourism costs, were a particular target.
Trials have been discontinued and the Department of Health and Social Care said it has no intention of making the checks mandatory: Last night, it also indicated its focus had shifted to better collection of unpaid health tourists’ bills.
The U-turn follows campaigns by Left-wing activists, including doctors and nurses, opposed to charging migrants: They claim doing so is ‘racist’ and have called on hospital workers to stop checks.
Last night, Tory MP Nigel Evans said: ‘We rightly fund the NHS for our citizens, but we can’t afford to fund an international health service available to everyone……..’If people know we’re not really making any checks, we will continue to be a destination for them to come to.’…………Medics opposed to charging migrants should bear in mind this was ‘taxpayers’ money, not theirs’, he added: Our revelation comes after figures revealed that every day at least ten women ineligible for free NHS care are still giving birth on maternity wards in England: Some 3,981 women were billed £13.3 million in 2017/18, of which £8.4 million remains unpaid.
In 2017, the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced rules legally obliging hospitals to charge patients upfront for ‘non-urgent’ treatment: That autumn, 18 hospital trusts ran three-month ‘pilot’ schemes, where patients were asked for both photo ID and proof of a UK address.
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