An audit is being launched on how much overseas patients and short-term residents cost the health service, as Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to announce a "crackdown" on abuse of public health services next week.
According to Department of Health research:
- The NHS bill for treating tourists is estimated to be up to £200 million.
- Expats, who currently face paying for care if they live permanently overseas, are set to be given guaranteed access to free NHS healthcare, but only once they have paid 10 years of national insurance contributions.
- Around £33 million went on the treatment of foreign nationals in hospitals in 2011/12, of which around £12 million was written off.
- Less than half of overseas visitors using hospitals are identified and only half of their costs are recovered.