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British Expats angry at NHS crackdown on health tourism

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UK media recently reported that the British government is planning a 'major crackdown' on 'health tourism'.

 

The logic of the crackdown appeared to be straight forward, given that the NHS is placed under considerable strain from visitors who arrive in the UK with longstanding health problems expecting free treatment.

 

However, the restrictions will also affect British expats living abroad.

 

According to media reports, UK pensioners who have been residing abroad for more than six months will no longer be eligible for free treatment.

 

Regardless of contributions made in the form of tax payment and National Insurance contributions, they will have to pay for any NHS treatment received while in Britain.

 

The only exceptions, where the costs will still be covered by the NHS, is for the treatment of emergencies, such as heart attacks.

 

However, the ban, which is set to be enforced by next April has sparked considerable controversy from UK citizens residing abroad.

 

"I lived and worked in the UK for 20 years. I paid the soaring tax rates each and every year, and I never went on the dole [the British welfare system] or tried to qualify for any extras," said expat, Laura, who began working abroad seven months ago.

 

She added, "There isn't any work in the UK now. The unemployment rate is soaring, and higher education is about to skyrocket as university fees are going up. Do they really expect Britons to stay put, paying out in tax but getting so little in return? I don't intend to return to the UK, but that doesn't mean I don't deserve the rights of other citizens should I visit later. This is especially the case when I'm old and at my most vulnerable. In fact, I deserve more as I never milked the system like the others did."

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i am pretty sure but this has always been the case in theory but never practiced


Arrived in WA on my WHV 27/06/12... Applied 489 WA 19/11/12.... Waiting!

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i am pretty sure but this has always been the case in theory but never practiced

 

It has been a long standing issue with "Heath Tourism" when I worked in the NHS if someone visiting the UK required elective surgery then they had to pay. This has been the case for a few years to try and stop visitors from other countries arriving here and getting knee replacements and similar surgery and treatment free.

 

I was under the impression (may be wrong) that in the past a UK citizen had to be out of the country for 3 years before losing entitlement. This is probably what is changing.

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It has been a long standing issue with "Heath Tourism" when I worked in the NHS if someone visiting the UK required elective surgery then they had to pay. This has been the case for a few years to try and stop visitors from other countries arriving here and getting knee replacements and similar surgery and treatment free.

 

I was under the impression (may be wrong) that in the past a UK citizen had to be out of the country for 3 years before losing entitlement. This is probably what is changing.

I think that is unfair (6 months) how many of the older generation go off to Spain etc in the winter months and probably stay longer than 6 months because it's cheaper than staying home, I can remember quite a few elderly people who use to pack up and move to Benidorm as it was cheaper to stay in an all inclusive than pay the bills. 3 years seems more reasonable.


If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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I used to work on health entitlement in the UK.

 

Entitlement to use the NHS is, and always has been, based on residence and not citizenship. If you are ordinarily resident in the UK, you are entitled to the NHS; if you are not ordinarily resident then you are not. Ordinarily resident means either that you have lived in the UK for 6 months or that you are both entitled and intending to do so. Regardless of nationality, the NHS will provide emergency necessary treatment (i.e. deal with heart attacks, etc). They will bill non-residents for such treatment but will not withhold emergency treatment even if they have doubts about getting paid.

 

When you emigrate, in theory you immediately cease to be ordinarily resident in the UK and should have to pay for NHS treatment. Proving that a patient is not ordinarily resident can be difficult, though, especially for someone who has recently emigrated.

 

Losing access to NHS treatment is one of the costs of emigration that needs to be factored into the equation.


Feb 2010 Prospective Marriage Visa | Nov 2010 Temporary Partner Visa | Nov 2012 Permanent Partner Visa | Jan 2015 Australian Citizenship

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I used to work on health entitlement in the UK.

 

Entitlement to use the NHS is, and always has been, based on residence and not citizenship. If you are ordinarily resident in the UK, you are entitled to the NHS; if you are not ordinarily resident then you are not. Ordinarily resident means either that you have lived in the UK for 6 months or that you are both entitled and intending to do so. Regardless of nationality, the NHS will provide emergency necessary treatment (i.e. deal with heart attacks, etc). They will bill non-residents for such treatment but will not withhold emergency treatment even if they have doubts about getting paid.

 

When you emigrate, in theory you immediately cease to be ordinarily resident in the UK and should have to pay for NHS treatment. Proving that a patient is not ordinarily resident can be difficult, though, especially for someone who has recently emigrated.

 

Losing access to NHS treatment is one of the costs of emigration that needs to be factored into the equation.

So even though I have a British Passport if I go back I wouldn't be entitled to NHS? Is this indefinitely or would I qualify after living back a certain length of time?


If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.

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So even though I have a British Passport if I go back I wouldn't be entitled to NHS? Is this indefinitely or would I qualify after living back a certain length of time?

 

I just moved back - albeit not into a home of our own as I am looking after my parents and I registered with a GP with no difficulty at all. It did help that it was the practice one of my parents attends but there wasnt even a flickered eyelid. So far I have had one GP visit to say hello and to get my regular medications set up. I was worried about the prospect of getting back into the health system as the travel insurance I had for my aborted trip expired when I didnt leave UK but (fingers crossed) so far so good.

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I just moved back - albeit not into a home of our own as I am looking after my parents and I registered with a GP with no difficulty at all. It did help that it was the practice one of my parents attends but there wasnt even a flickered eyelid. So far I have had one GP visit to say hello and to get my regular medications set up. I was worried about the prospect of getting back into the health system as the travel insurance I had for my aborted trip expired when I didnt leave UK but (fingers crossed) so far so good.

 

It should not be a problem, the doctor just needs to know you have returned permanently, then you are resident again and entitled to everything...

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So even though I have a British Passport if I go back I wouldn't be entitled to NHS? Is this indefinitely or would I qualify after living back a certain length of time?
If you go back to live (i.e. be ordinarily resident by either being there for 6 months or intending to be there for 6 months) you will qualify for NHS treatment. If you go back to visit you would not. Your British passport is irrelevant, except in that it will allow you to become ordinarily resident in the UK if you wish.

Feb 2010 Prospective Marriage Visa | Nov 2010 Temporary Partner Visa | Nov 2012 Permanent Partner Visa | Jan 2015 Australian Citizenship

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If you go back to live (i.e. be ordinarily resident by either being there for 6 months or intending to be there for 6 months) you will qualify for NHS treatment. If you go back to visit you would not. Your British passport is irrelevant, except in that it will allow you to become ordinarily resident in the UK if you wish.

 

but this surely is what makes it impossible in practise to police - you just have to give them an address, and most people will have family or friends they are staying with, or might visit whilst here whom may let them use their address. I guess having to prove something in way of a utility bill or similar would have to be shown - I know when we moved up here from London we couldn't register with the Doctor, despite having our NHS cards and a letter from our last GP (they were nice lol) until we could provide them with a utility bill (which is a little difficult when you first move in somewhere, as you don't tend to get billed for 3 months :/ ).

 

If that is the way it goes, people will just set something up so they have something going to an address - a bank account with pennies in it, providing a bank statement to a UK address or something. Like I say - in reality, pretty hard to police really.


Moved on a 179 PR visa Feb 2012; Citizenship granted Jan 2016. Settled in Adelaide. Loving it and feel like everyday is paradise compared to life in the UK.

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