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Health tourists to pay more at NHS

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Patients from outside the EU are to be charged 150% of the cost of treatment in the NHS in a fresh crackdown on so-called “health tourism”.

The move by the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is designed to encourage NHS Trusts to recover the cost of operations from migrants, BBC reported.

Mr Hunt believes the plans could save the the health service £500m a year.

The government also wants to charge EU patients 125% of the normal cost of treatment.

NHS HospitalThose hospitals that fail to bill foreign patients could also face fines, the BBC News Channel’s chief political correspondent Norman Smith said.

Many migrants currently get free NHS care immediately or soon after arrival in the UK.

The government is asking the NHS to clamp down by identifying these patients more effectively so costs can be recovered from them.

Under the plans, non-EU patients receiving a £100 procedure could get a bill of up to £150.

“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,” Mr Hunt said.

“These plans will help recoup up to £500m 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.”

At present only a fraction of the costs of treating migrants is being recovered.

The new measures are expected to come into force by next spring. The crackdown follows plans already unveiled to charge migrants a £200 “NHS” levy when they apply for a visa.

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