The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, is currently finalising plans which will see migrants essentially refused access to non-urgent NHS treatments.
This new policy will see such individuals forced to pay up front for minor treatments by the end of the calendar year.
Critics of this policy have pointed to the fact that it was not included in the Queen’s Speech.
But the Department of Health nonetheless expects to implement the decision of Hunt in the foreseeable future.
The policy will introduce a legal requirement for hospitals to charge patients who are not eligible for free NHS treatment.
Migrants will also need to produce identification documents at regular appointments, although access to emergency treatment will be unchanged.
In defending the policy, Hunt asserts that around £500 million annually can be saved by this approach, and that this can then be reinvested in the health service.
The Health Secretary has also admitted that the legislation has been delayed owing to Britain’s referendum on the European Union.
Initially, it was hoped that the new law would be instigated by April of this year.
However, fact-checking website Full Fact suggest that health tourism is only responsible for 0.3% of the overall NHS budget, while British citizens living overseas also return to the UK for treatment, and could be impacted by this policy.
Nonetheless, a spokesperson on behalf of the government indicated that it is the intention of the administration to introduce the legislation in the coming weeks.
“As set out in our manifesto, the Government remains committed to ensuring overseas visitors and migrants not eligible for NHS-funded care make a fair contribution. In the last three years we have more than trebled the amount we have identified from international visitors and migrants from £90m to £289m, and will now go further by introducing regulations in due course.”
The Conservative manifesto for the general election also contained content on this subject.
“Whilst the NHS will always treat people in an emergency, no matter where they are from, we will recover the cost of medical treatment from people not resident in the UK. We will ensure that new NHS numbers are not issued to patients until their eligibility has been verified. And we will increase the Immigration Health Surcharge, to £600 for migrant workers and £450 for international students, to cover their use of the NHS.”
However, many British people will support the idea of charging migraints for healthcare, considering that they effectively make no contribution to the NHS system.