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Hunt promises crackdown on foreigners who misuse NHS, despite GPs’ objections to checking entitlement

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f4280 (Published 02 July 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4280
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

England’s health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has promised to crack down on the use of the NHS by people who are not entitled to it, including migrants from outside the European Union.

In a speech on Wednesday 3 July he is expected to outline for consultation a package of measures designed to reduce “health tourism,” the cost of which to the NHS is disputed—anywhere between £12m (€14m; $18.2m) and £200m a year, depending on the source.

Similar promises were made 10 years ago by the then health secretary, John Reid; and a consultation on new rules was launched in 2010, in the final months of the last government. It was never implemented.

Reports suggest that Hunt will propose a tracking system that links people’s NHS numbers with their immigration status. As things stand, anybody who claims to be ordinarily resident …

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