Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt outlines plans to tackle “health tourism” by introducing a levy on foreigners who come to the UK for more than half a year to access NHS treatment.
Mr Hunt is expected to announce a public consultation on the move tomorrow as part of a raft of changes to immigration laws.
The health secretary said: “We need to ensure that those residing or visiting the UK are contributing to the system in the same way as British taxpayers, and ensure we do as much as possible to target illegal migration.
The NHS is a national treasure, and we need to work with the entire health system to make sure it is sustainable for years to come. Jeremy Hunt, health secretary
“We have been clear that we are a national health service not an international health service and I am determined to wipe out abuse in the system.
“The NHS is a national treasure and we need to work with the entire health system to develop plans and make sure it is sustainable for years to come.”
He will also outline plans to end free access to GPs for short term visitors.
But the National Aids Trust (NAT) said that the initiatives could risk the lives of people living with HIV and would also threaten the health of Britons.
Chief Executive Deborah Jack said: “If introduced, these policies will endanger the lives of people living with HIV and threaten the health of our community.
“The proposals, if enforced, would undermine years of work to encourage marginalised at-risk groups to access HIV testing and treatment.
We are calling on the government not to limit universal primary care access to migrants living in England. Deborah Jack, National Aids Trust
“By limiting access to primary care for some migrants living in England, we would cut off the only place many of them will get an HIV diagnosis – short of presenting at A&E many years after they were infected, once they are very seriously ill.
“We are calling on the government not to limit universal primary care access to migrants living in England. If they go ahead they risk putting lives at risk and accelerating the spread of HIV in the general population.”
The NHS bill for treating tourists, estimated to be up to £200m, will also be tackled, Mr Hunt will say.
The changes are part of a government-wide push to cut down on abuse of British services, but doctors have warned they feared being turned into a “form of immigration control”.