UK’s NHS may adopt ID cards in struggle to curb health tourism
The UK may introduce an 'entitlement card’ as a requirement for those seeking medical treatment in the country. The measure is widely seen as a part of a crackdown on health tourism – when non-nationals come to the country for free treatment.
The reform is currently under discussion, but if enacted it
would only allow access to the National Health Service (NHS) for
those who have regular residency; to obtain this status would take
between six months and a year.
Upon applying for healthcare, patients would then be required to
present a special ID card. Emergency and antenatal care would still
be available free to the public.
The proposal was put forward by Frank Field, Labour MP for
Birkenhead, and Nicholas Soames, Tory MP for Mid Sussex, who
co-chair a cross-party parliamentary group on balanced
The news sparked worries among activists, but was welcomed by
doctors, many of whom say they find it difficult to ask patients if
they are entitled to NHS care over fears of appearing
“The important thing is to make sure that people are not
drawn to the UK artificially,” Foreign Secretary William Hague
told BBC on Sunday, adding that benefit tourism “has to be
Hague was largely referring to visitors from the EU,
specifically Romania and Bulgaria, who now are allowed free
movement within the union. He declined to give approximate figures
of those coming to the UK, however, saying that such an estimate
would be a “guesswork.”
This is the latest development in British attempts to deal with
the large influx of immigrants into the country.
In January, the UK announced a new citizenship test. According to
reports, the new exam would include questions about Monty Python
and details of the Queen's life, and other culturally specific