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Health: Overseas Visitors

Volume 699: debated on Wednesday 20 February 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What evidence they have of people travelling to Britain to use health services, whether at primary or secondary level. [HL1906]

The department does not compile statistics on the numbers of overseas visitors treated under the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989, as amended, including those who travel to the United Kingdom specifically to use health services.

There are provisions for overseas visitors travel to the UK specifically for treatment with prior approval. Following rulings by the European Court of Justice, there are currently two procedures that cover patients travelling to another European economic area (EEA) member state for planned treatment (whether that be residents from other EEA states coming to the UK or vice versa)—the E112 route and the Article 49 route.

Recent data show that in 2006-07 there were approximately 735 E112 referrals to the National Health Service from other EEA countries.

Data on Article 49 referrals to the UK are held by primary care trusts and are not collected centrally.

The UK also has a number of bilateral agreements with other, non-EEA countries (mainly crown dependencies/overseas territories such as Isle of Man, Channel Islands, Gibraltar) under which they are entitled to refer cases to the UK. Recent data show that in 2006-07 these countries referred approximately 4260 cases to the UK.