Recent studies done by the British Government for the Department of Health have revealed that the NHS spends around £2billion a year in the called ‘non tax payers’, which are those who do not contribute with their salary to maintain the Health Service.
They are identified as ‘Health tourists’, short-term visitors to the UK, and foreign residents, European citizens whose home governments should pay their costs, but this barely happens. The amount is divided between service, more than £500m, recovering, about £388m, and surcharge that rise to £200m.
However, some people disagree about the reliability of these results: “The figures reported in some of the newspapers are wrong. They are an overestimate, amongst other things, they included emergency care [driving accidents, fires], as well as urgent treatment for people who have been raped, tortured etc.”, said Keith Pollard, Managing Director in a web publishing business in the healthcare sector.
This huge quantity is qualified for the Ministers as a ‘serious problem’ that must be solved adopting measures such as: charge foreign students £200 before to use the NHS, which would mean an income of 200 million a year or, in case of tourists, make sure of their nationality to claim back the costs of their care to their respective Governments.
Nonetheless it could be considered as a waste of time, as Dr. J. Swank, Consultant Psychiatrist in South Kensington and Chelsea Mental Health Centre, admitted: “If people need my help, I will not let them die. I provide care to whoever needs it. I do not want to waste time checking their credentials.”
But once again, the taxpayers are the ones who suffer this situation and they could even have an increase in their costs to support this measure. “If we are going to look at the cost of non-tax payers, the research needs to look closely at how much it would cost to set up a system in every hospital department in the UK to monitor, assess, document… which is the alleged problem”, added Rocío Sainz from the Biology Laboratory in West Brompton Hospital.
-What do you think about the measures suggested?-
- Gilbert Hoffmann, 21, German Erasmus student of Psychology, London.
“I think it is not fair for us, foreign students, to pay this amount in case we need the health care. We are not the real problem.”
- Sylvie Siklosi, 35, Swiss Account Executive in Ingram, London.
“This is not an issue, it is an advantage of being part of the EU. In the same way, British people can use European Health Systems.”
- Andrew Smith, 32, Teacher at Fulham Prep School, London.
“We should find a solution. Only contributors should have access to NHS services. If you would like to enjoy anything, you should pay for it.”
- Elisa Moreira, 29, Spanish tourist, Architect, London.
“What about British people having treatment abroad? I know British people living in Spain who have had surgery there, not costing the NHS any money.”