The 14 Words

Monday, 30 December 2013

Migrants WILL be charged by A&E but what happens when they don't pay? Sweet F.A. that's what!

Foreigners coming to Britain will be charged for emergency treatment on the NHS for the first time as part of a clampdown on health tourism.

Migrants who go to A&E will be billed between £20 and £100 for a consultation, on top of the cost of their treatment – with staff presenting chip-and-pin machines at their bedsides.

The charges are being brought in amid concerns that the NHS has become an 'international health service', with foreign patients who are not entitled to care racking up costs of £2billion a year.

Many travel to the UK specifically for free treatment – yesterday it emerged that in the past two years, 300 heavily pregnant women flew in to Britain through one airport just to give birth in NHS hospitals.

Ministers have ruled out making overseas patients pay to see a GP after doctors raised fears this could impact on public health, but migrants will be charged for any follow-up procedures and prescriptions, as well as any care they receive in hospital.

Senior doctors said last night that the plans would cause 'confusion' among staff and patients. They said the Government had failed to explain exactly how it would collect the money from foreigners.

There is also concern that British patients will be wrongly charged if they cannot prove their nationality – or that the critically ill will be deterred from seeking help because they cannot afford to pay.

The fees will be introduced next year and the Department of Health has promised to publish further details on how the new system will work in March.

It is thought that patients will be charged between £20 and £100 for an initial consultation – depending on their condition – in addition to the price of any further treatment, scans or operations.

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