• Charging Foreign Nationals To Use The NHS

    20 September 2019

    Dear Constituent,

    Thank you for contacting me about the treatment of foreign nationals on the NHS.

    I believe that overseas visitors should be able to access our NHS as long as they make a fair contribution, just as the British taxpayer does. The NHS is a national, not an international, health service and I commend the Government’s determination to stamp out misuse of the system to ensure it remains free at the point of need in this country.

    Providers of NHS care should assure themselves that they do everything reasonable to determine a patient’s eligibility for NHS-funded healthcare, which is based on residency, not nationality. However, urgent treatment will never be withheld, irrespective of whether a patient is chargeable or not. Charges would still apply, but should be pursued after the treatment has been provided. By recovering more money from overseas visitors who are not eligible for free care, money can then be reinvested into patient care.

    Non-EEA nationals subject to immigration control, seeking to live in the UK for more than six-months, pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which exempts them from NHS overseas visitor charges for treatment they receive in the UK, and gives them broadly the same access to the NHS as UK nationals. The average cost of treating those paying the surcharge comes to £470 per person. That is why the Government has decided to increase the annual IHS to £400. I believe this represents a fair deal, given the range of NHS services temporary visitors will be able to use without further charge,

    I am assured that the most vulnerable groups of overseas visitors will continue to access free NHS care. Services like the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases also remain free to all.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mel Stride MP

    MP for Central Devon