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Ministers mull GP charges for migrants

The Government is considering charging foreign nationals for access to primary care, a health minister has announced.

Earl Howe said in response to a parliamentary question on GP practice registration last Wednesday that the Government was considering extending the charges for non-EU nationals, which are currently levied on those accessing NHS hospitals, to cover primary care.

He said: ‘Provision exists within primary legislation to allow the introduction of a system of NHS charges covering treatment for GP services.

‘As part of the department’s review of charging of overseas visitors for NHS care, consideration is being given to whether to extend charging for NHS treatment to primary care.’

He added: ‘No decision has yet been taken on any option and this will also be subject to consultation across a number of related matters.’

The potential changes come as part of wider discussions about who should have access to NHS treatment.

Last Sunday, Home Secretary Theresa May told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the Government was looking into restricting access to public services, including hospitals, for migrants who arrive here without a job.