'It's a national health service, not an international health service' - Tax expert backs NHS charge on care for non-EU migrants

'It's a national health service, not an international health service' - Taxpayers' Alliance research director Alex Wild backs NHS surcharge for migrants

The NHS will be introducing a charge for its payments for non-EU individuals

Monday, May 9, 2016

Tax expert Alex Wild has supported the plans for the National Health Service to charge non-EU migrants for receiving care and treatment.

The change, outlined in The Queen's Speech, will place a cost on NHS services for individuals who do not normally live in the European Economic Area (EEA). The government is hoping the bill, due to be published on May 18, will save an estimated £500million a year. 

Under EU Law, the UK can claim back the health care costs ­provided for foreign visitors. Wild, a research director for The Taxpayers' Alliance (TTA), backs the plan because he claims the UK has been reluctant to claim for the money from non-EU countries.

"In the UK, we're very reticent to reclaim the costs [from foreign governments for treating their citizens]," he told Julia Hartley-Brewer. "I'd like to see us doing what they do in other countries like France or Germany [charging for treatment with a reduced cost].

"It's a national health service, not an international health service."

While he admitted the NHS needed a change, he had some doubts about whether it will generate the government's predicted savings. 

"There is, in theory, a system in place," he added, "But it doesn't seem to be working, because we keep hearing about the financial pressures the NHS is under.

"It [NHS charges] does seem like a sensible idea, but whether or not the savings will materialise remains to be seen."