On 26 February, the Department of Health set out a list of new proposals on the access of foreign nationals to the NHS. The aim of these measures is to prevent ‘health tourism’, thus reducing its fi nancial burden on the NHS. The DOH has invited views on these planned changes from the public and others.  

The proposals, which will change the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989, include:  

  •  A number of options requiring visitors to the UK to have health insurance  
  •  Extension of the period of time that UK residents can stay outside the country on a regular basis before losing their automatic entitlement to NHS treatment from three months to six  
  •  Loss of entitlement to free healthcare for failed asylum seekers who are not co-operating with the UK Border Agency (those cooperating will not have to pay for NHS treatment).

In addition to this, the Home Offi ce is also consulting on a proposal to refuse entry to the UK to anyone who has signifi cant outstanding debts for previous NHS treatment.

The deadline for making any comments to the DOH in relation to these measures is 30 June 2010.