‘Hostile environment’: ID checks searching for NHS ‘health tourists’ find too few to make it worthwhile

Jeremy Hunt: He warned us that ‘health tourism’ was costing us a fortune, five years ago; it isn’t.

Tory racism rolls on without much ado.

This aspect relates to so-called ‘health tourism’. Remember a while ago we were being force-fed reports that people from foreign countries were ripping off the NHS for £2 billion a year?

The total cost to the 48 people listed in the Evening Standard article quoted below was less than £160,000. It does not represent the cost of ‘health tourism’ in the 18 NHS trusts that participated in the pilot scheme for around two months last year – just the amount paid by people who identified themselves as foreigners when they were asked. That’s an important distinction to make.

If those figures were replicated across all the NHS trusts in England, the total amount payable by foreign patients would be less than £12 million per year – less than 1/167th of the amount suggested by the Tories in 2013.

Now get ready for the punchline: “The Department of Health declined to say whether the ID checks would be abandoned in light of the trial.”

This is throwing good money after bad (don’t forget that the cost of running the pilot scheme was paid by the NHS – and ultimately the taxpayer – and takes funds away from healthcare.

There could be only one reason for continuing with ID checks:

The persecution of Johnny Foreigner – and, for that matter, any UK citizen who can’t produce two forms of ID. Can you?

A pilot scheme set up by Jeremy Hunt to check whether patients were entitled to free NHS care found only a tiny number were ineligible, the Evening Standard can reveal.

Figures from London hospitals which asked 8,894 people for two forms of ID prior to treatment showed that only 50 — or one in 180 — had to pay for their care. Campaigners today called on the Government to abandon any plans to extend the pilot nationwide as they branded the attempted crackdown on “health tourism” a “waste of time”.

Source: 8,900 checks on NHS ‘health tourists’ find just 50 liable to pay | London Evening Standard

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6 thoughts on “‘Hostile environment’: ID checks searching for NHS ‘health tourists’ find too few to make it worthwhile

  1. pippakin

    400,000 immigrants arrived in the UK last year how many of them do you think had private health insurance and how many of them have got jobs. All of them are a drain on the NHS The term ‘health tourist’ is a diversion

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      You tell us – with reputable references, please. How many had health insurance? How many had jobs?
      And how many of the two million UK citizens resident in other EU nations are a drain on those countries’ health services?

  2. Barry Davies

    It seems a very small amount of people were asked when you consider the turnover in London hospitals as a whole, so which hospitals were targeted and who decided who to ask, as ever a tiny pilot is being wrongly extrapolated.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      By all means criticise the government’s choices. I’m sure they asked everyone who could possibly have been in the target group. 1/12 of all NHS trusts in England is not a tiny pilot, though.

  3. Kate George

    Finding the right ID can be a problem for anyone, I’m a British citizen, white, born in London, to British parents (and grandparents), Worked for 40+ years. Recently I moved house and took early retirement, and if you don’t change your address on your driving licence you can be fined £1000. I didn’t think it would be so difficult. I started by filling in the online form, but as I’ve never had a photo licence (I have an old green one) because I lived at my previous address for 33 years, I had to then wait for a form to be sent by the DVLA and provide a photograph, countersigned by someone “suitable”. That as a problem in itself as I have moved 170 miles from where I previously lived. And who is “suitable” anyway? It’s all rather discriminatory, not many of us know councillors, magistrates, solicitors etc. So I did that and sent it off with my old licence as requested. It all came back to me saying I had to produce 2 ORIGINAL forms of ID, most of which I didn’t have. My passport was out of date. I had to send my original birth certificate which I needed to apply for my company pensions (as I have an out of date passport and no photo licence). My pay slips and P60 are sent by email (so if I print those are they original?) and with no printer I had to find a way of printing them. I’ve not been married, divorced, claimed benefits etc so had none of the other suggested forms of ID “to prove right of residence” and the right to hold a UK driving licence! Is my old green licence not enough???? It made me feel like they thought I was an illegal immigrant. I just hope they accept what I sent back. I would have gone to a local DVLA office to try to sort it out, but when I checked I found that they were all closed at the end of 2013 to save money. I never thought I would have to jump through hoops to change the address on my driving licence which I have held since 1975!!!!!!

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