Migrants from countries like India will no longer be eligible for free healthcare under the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) as part of plans to help the struggling medical system save nearly 500 million pounds a year.
Under new rules announced by the Department of Health, patients from outside the European Union (EU) will be charged up to 150 per cent of the cost of treatment in the NHS.
The move is aimed at tackling so-called “health tourism”, under which migrants come into Britain to access its state-funded healthcare system.
At present visitors and migrants can get free NHS care immediately or soon after arrival in the UK.
The latest move by UK Health Minister Jeremy Hunt is designed to encourage NHS Trusts to recover the cost of operations from migrants.
He also wants to charge EU patients 125 per cent of the normal cost of treatment.
“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,” Hunt said.
“These plans will help recoup up to 500 million pounds 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,” he added.
Under the plans, non-EU patients receiving a 100 pound procedure could get a bill of up to 150 pounds.
At present only a fraction of the costs of treating migrants is being recovered.
The new measures are expected to come into force by early next year.
The crackdown follows plans already unveiled to charge migrants a 200 pound “NHS” levy when they apply for a visa.