‘Health tourist’ migrants face ban from UK over NHS debts

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Migrants from outside the European Union (EU) who owe the NHS more than £1,000 are to be banned from staying in the UK until the debt is paid.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: “The NHS is a national health service, not an international one. If someone does not pay for their treatment we will not let them back into the country.”

The move, designed to protect the UK’s public services from health tourism, is expected to cover 94 per cent of the outstanding charges to the NHS.

The health service will provide information to the UK Border Agency to enable it to identify the debtors and any applications to return or stay in the UK will be rejected if the NHS debts exceed £1,000.

Public Health Minister Anne Milton added: “The NHS has a duty to anyone whose life or long-term health is at immediate risk, but we cannot afford to become an international health service, providing free treatment for all.

Non-EU migrants may also need health insurance before being granted a visa under a review of charges being considered by the Government.