Charging of overseas visitors and migrants who use the National Health Service

The Department of Health is now consulting on extending charging of overseas visitors and migrants who use the NHS. I enclose a copy of a Ministerial Statement that has been issued by Lord Prior of Brampton, the Minister responsible for this area of policy:

Charging of overseas visitors and migrants who use the National Health Service

The visitor and migrant National Health Service cost recovery programme was established in July 2014 to design and implement improvements in the systems for charging patients who are not resident of the United Kingdom. The programme has focused so far on improving identification and cost recovery from chargeable patients in hospitals.

I am pleased to announce the Department of Health will now be seeking the public’s views on extending charging of overseas visitors and migrants who use the National Health Service. We have proposed a number of changes to enable overseas visitors and migrants to be charged for NHS healthcare they receive, in addition to the existing system for cost recovery for hospital treatment. The proposed extension of charging will not affect free healthcare at the point of use for permanent residents of the UK.

The consultation seeks opinions on proposals affecting:

– Primary Medical Care
– NHS Prescriptions
– Primary NHS Dental Care
– Primary NHS Ophthalmic Services (Eye Care)
– Accident and Emergency (A&E)
– Ambulance Services
– Assisted Reproduction
– Non-NHS providers of NHS Care and Out-of-Hospital Care
– NHS Continuing Healthcare
– EEA National’s residency definition
– Overseas visitors working on UK-registered ships

The consultation also seeks views on any further areas that could be considered for charging.

The proposals explored within the consultation aim to support the principle of fairness by ensuring those not resident of the United Kingdom who can pay for National Health Service care do so. The proposals we are consulting on do not intend to restrict access, but aim to ensure everyone makes a fair contribution for the care they receive.

We propose that the most vulnerable people, including refugees, remain exempt from charging. Furthermore, the National Health Service will not deny urgent and immediately necessary healthcare to those in need, regardless of residency. We also propose that exemptions from charging will also remain in place for illnesses that pose a risk to public health.

The potential income generated through the extension of charging will contribute towards the Department of Health’s aim of recovering up to £500 million per year from overseas migrants and visitors by the middle of this Parliament (2017/18). The recovery of up to £500 million per year will contribute to the £22 billion savings required to ensure the long-term sustainability of the National Health Service.

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  1. Andrew Evans
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I fully support this proposal. I do not pay taxes for fraudsters to use the NHS. Monies should be collected by a private company which will be more effective.

  2. Ann Lavery
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Allow GPs. Hospitals and clinics to keep what they collect.

    On the continent you are asked how you will pay before you get to see a medic.

    Go to

  3. Ben Kelly
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Why is this not already in place?

    Greater traction for the policy would be achieved if all monies raised went directly to the trust which performed the service. You could be sure that if this was implemented then the “managers” at the trust would create proper procedures.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Not before time.

    Try to get to see anyone to get medical advice abroad and the very first thing they require is proof of your personal details, country of residence, home address, holiday insurance, credit card details and the name and contact details of your own Doctor.

    All done for a very good reason at reception so that the doctor and nurses are aware of who you are and can pass on your illness details, treatment, and drugs given to your own GP for their records to your files.

    The fact that you get given a bill afterwards is built into the system, and the patient reclaims such from their own medical insurance cover, or the NHS where reciprocal arrangements are in place.

    Simply do not understand why is it so difficult for the NHS to operate the same system and grasp the nettle here.

  5. Pauline Jorgensen
    Posted December 12, 2015 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    What I do not understand is why some NHS employees on the news have been so negative about recovering non emergency health costs from people not entitled to free treatment. They seem to live in a different world of money trees where the poor taxpayer seldom gets a thought.

    Reply I agree. There are problems getting the NHS to bill foreign visitors who have money or health insurance and use the NHS.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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