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Foreign Nationals (NHS Services)

Volume 533: debated on Tuesday 18 October 2011

9. What progress he has made on reducing the number of foreign nationals using NHS services without payment. (74855)

We have updated and simplified regulations and guidance on identifying and charging visitors who must pay. Immigration rules now before Parliament will allow the UK Borders Agency to refuse entry to visitors with an unpaid debt to the NHS, and we are now reviewing this area more fundamentally to identify further improvements.

I thank the Minister for that answer. On 19 July, I spoke in the House about foreign nationals using the NHS without payment and, having entered a freedom of information request to each foundation trust and PCT, I now have a more accurate picture of the sums involved. It suggests that some £15 million has been completely written off. Will the Minister meet me to discuss the findings and what possible solutions might be found to tackle this important issue?

I share my hon. Friend’s concerns about this important issue and challenge for the NHS. I would be more than happy to see the results of his FOI request, and I or a colleague would also be happy to meet him to discuss the matter further.

There is a relatively painless way to deal with this. At the time that the visa is applied for, the person should sign an undertaking that they will pay the costs of NHS treatment. Will the Minister talk to the Minister for Immigration to see whether it is possible to introduce such a requirement?

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. We are looking at a range of options and I am more than happy to pass on his suggestions to my hon. Friend for them to be considered.