In an attempt to curb immigration, the British Home Office have stated that overseas visitors who fail to pay their debts, in full, for National Health Service care will soon be denied permission to enter the country.
"The NHS is designed to meet the health care needs of the UK, and we won't tolerate abuse of this service. We welcome overseas visitors, but those who use NHS facilities need to pay for them, or they will be barred from coming here. It's very simple - pay up or you won't be welcome in the UK," said Immigration Minister Damian Green.
The above changes to the rules were laid in front of the British Parliament on Monday. According to the rules, those persons subject to immigration control and facing an outstanding bill for medical expenses for £1,000 or more will not be allowed to enter or remain in the UK until the debt is paid off.
The NHS will provide information that will enable the Border Agency to identify debtors and, when they apply to return to or remain in the UK, to refuse their applications. The information-sharing arrangement is being put into practice in a phased manner and is expected to be fully operational over the coming months.
It is hoped that the £1,000 threshold will capture 94 per cent of outstanding fees owed to the NHS.
This change follows consultations out last year between the UK Border Agency and the Department of Health. Earlier, a review committee in 2009 studied the rules on charging overseas visitors for access to NHS services in England.