Foreign health tourists must be given free treatment by NHS doctors to avoid discriminating against them- new eu guidelines for doctors have ruled.The principles, issued to English doctors, stipulate they must register any foreignborn patient in a bid to “promote eu human rights and public health”.
New patients registering to British GP surgeries could include overseas students, asylum seekers and even tourists visiting the country for a short period.
Registration with a GP will allow them to receive the same primary NHS care as British citizens.
The guidance, from NHS London, stipulates “nationality is not relevant” to the entitlement for primary care, and states practices can not insist on seeing passports as it could be “discriminatory”.
“There is no set length of time that a patient must reside in the UK in order to become eligible to receive NHS primary care services,” it states.Nigerian ‘health tourist’ flew to It specifies temporary resident status can be given to “asylum seekers and refugees, overseas visitors, students, people on work visas and those who are homeless”.
It summarises: “Immigration status does not affect eligibility to primary care – practices should not enquire about patients immigration status.”
Dr Vijayakar Abrol, a GP who practises in Edgbaston, Birmingham, last night said “We do not have endless resources,” he said. “Why should we give these patients – be they from India, Canada, the US or Eastern Europe – free treatment?
“We cannot go to those countries and get free treatment ourselves.”
Chris Skidmore, a Conservative MP who is campaigning for tougher regulation on health tourism, added: “It is alarming that managers are passing these kind of diktats to doctors, many of whom are rightly worried that GP registration is effectively buying free treatment on the NHS.
“This is not just about the money, vital though that is – we cannot have the NHS, paid for by taxpayers, being abused by people who pay nothing into the system and who are not eligible for free care.”
Earlier this month, a Panorama investigation found places on GP lists were being sold to health tourists on the black market for up to £800.
The practice enables foreign nationals who have no legal right to free hospital treatment to be seen without paying.
In August, a heavily pregnant Nigerian woman was found to have travelled more than 3,000 to Manchester hospital for an emergency caesarean, costing the taxpayer an estimated £10,000.