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Foreign patients ‘may be charged for GP care’

Short-term visitors from outside Europe staying less than six months may have to pay for GP services, health secretary Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce later today.

Under the plans, new non-EU arrivals to Britain may have to pay an up-front fee of at least £1,000, or £200 per year to use the NHS when making a five-year visa application, newspapers have reported this morning.

Mr Hunt told the Guardian newspaper: ‘We need to ensure that those residing or visiting the UK are contributing to the system in the same way as British taxpayers, and ensure we do as much as possible to target illegal migration.

‘We have been clear that we are a national health service not an international health service and I am determined to wipe out abuse in the system.’

Pulse revealed earlier this year that more than half of GPs believe NHS entitlements for migrants are too generous, with some practices refusing to register patients they believe to be illegal immigrants or failed asylum seekers.

More to come on this story later today