London, July 3 (ANI): In an effort to put an end to health tourism, UK government is set to lay out a new rule that will make foreigners pay upfront charges if they take National Health Service (NHS) treatment.
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, will set out details in the Commons of a new rule on Wednesday, making clear that migrants will have to pay to visit a general practitioner.
The Daily Express reports that this new measure is designed to claw back around 200 million pounds a year from taxpayers' money currently spent on non-UK citizens.
According to the report, the Department for Health reclaims cash spent on treating foreigners from their home country under the current rules. But recent figures show that for every 100 pounds, the NHS spends on caring for foreigners, only 23 pounds is paid back.
The crackdown on health tourism is among a series of measures drawn up by ministers following concerns about full European Union freedom-of-movement rights being given to Romanian and Bulgarian citizens at the end of the year.
Now anyone applying for a visa to stay for more than six months will have to pay a one-off flat fee to entitle them to use the NHS, the rule stated.
Hunt said that they need to ensure that those residing or visiting the UK are contributing to the system in the same way as British taxpayers.
He further said that a public consultation will be announced to seek views on the ultimate level of the fee, adding that the proposals will then be set out in an Immigration Bill in the autumn.
The report also revealed that the ministers will launch an audit into how much overseas patients and short-term residents cost the NHS.
An estimated 33 million pounds was spent on hospital treatment for foreigners during 2011-12. Of which, around 12 million pounds, was written off with the bill picked up by taxpayers, report states.
Meanwhile, the general practitioners have shown resistance towards the rule. Some of them reportedly said that they do not want to become a 'surrogate border agency'. Their leaders further added that they have a duty to care for all. (ANI)