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Government to unveil plans to charge migrants for NHS care in Immigration Bill

The controversial new Immigration Bill, expected to force GPs to vet the migration status of new patients, is due to be announced in the House of Commons today.

As expected, the bill will include new measures to crack down on so-called ‘health tourism’, including forcing temporary migrants in the UK to pay a ‘levy’ to use NHS services including accessing general pracitce.

Scheduled for announcement later today, the bill will ‘introduce a new requirement for temporary migrants, for example overseas students who have only a time-limited immigration status, to make a contribution to the NHS’, the Home Office confirmed.

In the Government’s consultation on the content of the bill earlier this year, it suggested a levy of between £200 and £500 per year to access both routine and emergency NHS services.

The plans, which could see GPs checking the immigration status of new patients, have been rejected by both the BMA and the RCGP.

The BMA said it would be unlikely to be cost-effective, because of the additional work involved in setting up new systems to check immigration status.

Meanwhile RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada branded the plans as ‘regressive’ and warned of ‘very real’ public health implication.

Immigration minister Mark Harper said: ‘The Immigration Bill will stop migrants using public services to which they are not entitled, reduce the pull factors which encourage people to come to the UK and make it easier to remove people who should not be here.’

‘We will continue to welcome the brightest and best migrants who want to contribute to our economy and society and play by the rules. But the law must be on the side of people who respect it, not those who break it.’