Doctors’ leaders question £2bn estimated cost to NHS of caring for visitors

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 22 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6408
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. 1BMJ

The NHS in England could save up to £500m (€590m; $810m) a year if new measures were implemented to ensure that visitors from overseas and immigrants paid for healthcare in the United Kingdom, says new research published by the government.

England’s health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said that the study conducted for the Department of Health supported his proposed changes to the current system of recovering costs for NHS care, designed to ensure fairness for British taxpayers.1

But the BMA has said that the estimates were based on numerous assumptions. The researchers themselves acknowledged that there was “no robust evidence” to conclusively show how much of the NHS budget was consumed by temporary visitors.2

The research included a quantitative report that analysed data from the 2011 census, the 2012 international passenger survey of people entering and leaving the UK, …

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