DOCTORS have backed a decision to stop billing foreign patients for NHS care — calling it “fundamentally racist”.
Up to 500 medics voted overwhelmingly in favour of abandoning fees.
Dr Jackie Appleby, proposing the motion, claimed they were a form of “racial profiling” and were not cost-effective. She said: “The cost of health tourism is disputed. It’s peanuts in the grand scheme of things.”
Health tourism in the UK costs anything from £200million to £2billion a year.
Patients “ordinarily resident” here — usually for six months — can access free NHS care, as can EU citizens with an EHIC card. Any others are charged before treatment, with NHS staff checking their status first.
Dr Omar Risk told the British Medical Association’s conference in Belfast: “Charging migrants for accessing NHS services is a fundamentally racist endeavour.”
Villagers' GP care crisis
HUNDREDS of villages have lost their GP surgeries — forcing patients to travel miles for care.
Rural and coastal areas are the hardest hit amid a shortage of family docs — sparking fears for the elderly and vulnerable.
NHS data shows 1,946 areas where the distance to the nearest surgery is at least three miles. For some, it is up to 14 miles.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, of the Royal College of GPs, told the Daily Telegraph remote and deprived areas are “the canary in the mine for the problem”.
most read in health
THE ‘CURSED’ CHILD A MUM WON’T LOVE
Heartbreaking photos show the premature baby whose mum won't hold or feed her
Prostitute who earns £2,000 a week reveals the average penis size … and how much she enjoys work
Here’s what taking the odd line of coke REALLY does to your body… and it might surprise you
The truth about YOUR double chin, what's really causing it – and the DAFT exercises that can help banish it
Doctors opposing the motion were booed, the Daily Mail reported. One, Dr George Rae, said: “The message coming from the BMA is . . . get on the plane, get on the boat because you will get treatment on the NHS for nothing.”
The BMA plans to lobby the Government to stop the fees.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “British taxpayers support the NHS and it is only right that overseas visitors also make a contribution.”
- GOT a news story? RING us on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL email@example.com