Immigrants from outside the European Union will be charged 150% of the cost of treatment in the National Health Service in a move aimed at deterring so-called ‘Health Tourists’, the Department of Health announced on Monday.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the new scheme will save the NHS nearly half a billion pounds a year.
“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.
Migrants from the European Union will be charged 125% of the cost of treatment.
The measures are designed to incentivise NHS Trusts who don’t do enough to chase those patients who are ineligible for treatment on the Service under their visa conditions.
At present visitors and migrants can get free NHS care immediately or soon after arrival in the UK.
Charges range from just under £2000 for cataract surgery to just under £9000 for a hip replacement procedure.
Under the new plans, non-EU patients who receive a £100 procedure at their hospital will be charged £150.
Temporary migrants from outside Europe who are in the UK for longer than six months will have to pay a new surcharge when they submit an application for leave to enter or remain in the UK.
Mr Hunt says that the cost to the NHS of treating non-UK citizens amounted to £2 billion a year.
The crackdown follows plans already unveiled to charge non-EU migrants a £200 “NHS” levy when they apply for a visa.
The new scheme is set to be trialled beginning this summer before coming into force in 2015.