NHS risks becoming World Health Service warn campaigners
The NHS risks becoming the “World Health Service” because even visitors to the country can claim free treatment, immigration campaigners warn.Ministers have confirmed that GPs do not need to ask prospective patients for ID or proof of address when registering them, raising fresh fears over “health tourism”.
It allows foreign nationals who arrive in England on a six month visitors visa to begin receiving health care immediately.
But the pressure group Migration Watch UK says that it could also mean illegal immigrants getting NHS treatment.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the organisation, said: “What this means is that someone getting off a plane with a valid visitors visa, is, in effect, able to access the GP services of the NHS without ever having paid a penny into the system. Over one and a half million such visas were issued last year.”
“And once registered with a GP it is, in practice, an easy step to potentially highly expensive and long term treatment – all at the expense of the UK taxpayer with little or no prospect of the beneficiaries ever being charged for it.”
He went on: “‘It is clearly not the job of doctors to act as an arm of the immigration service but there are clear and substantial risks of abuse in such a lax system and controls must be put in place.”
“The present situation is outrageous. Everyone knows the pressure the NHS is under and its ever increasing cost to the taxpayer. To allow such easy and potentially hugely expensive access without any entitlement must be stopped at once, otherwise the NHS risks becoming the ‘World Health Service’.”
The “lax” rules were confirmed in response to a parliamentary written question asked by Frank Field, the veteran Labour MP.
Tags: Conservatives, GPs, Health Professionals, National Health Service, NHS, nhs cash shortages, preventable crisis