A new immigration legislation launched by the UK government expect temporary immigrants including students from countries that do not belong to EU to pay levy for using national services including National Health Service. The present government claims that the tourists are draining the NHS. According to health secretary of UK, a large amount of taxpayer’s money is being lost on the treatment of people in foreign countries, who should be paying for these services.
A study shows that on the contrary to what the government believes, medical tourists are lucrative source of income for NHS. According to researchers the hospitals popular with foreign patients earned millions from them. The study in fact highlights that NHS can actually earn a lot from foreign patients who are ready to pay large sums of money for treatment at internationally renowned hospitals.
In fact, the number of tourists who paid for the services could be almost double of the number of people who exploited free healthcare in UK. The researchers also found that more people leave UK to seek medical treatment in some other country than the people who arrive here for treatment. Many people travelled abroad for treatments they could not get on the NHS, or there was a long waiting list. These people saved a lot of money for NHS.
The medical tourists who visit Britain spend money on hotels, transport, shopping and restaurant, and benefit these industries. They become a source of income for many people, rather than financial burden as the government wants to portray.
The government should use the money earned from medical tourists in improving the facilities of NHS hospitals. This will benefit a large number of patients in UK. A research in 2010 has found that medical tourists spent approximately 219 million ponds in the country on other related hospitality business.
It is time to stop blaming medical tourists for various problems inflicting health service. This approach does not take into account a large amount of money spent by these tourists. It also does not consider the NHS money saved by people who travel abroad for treatment. In this time of global mobility, it is very difficult to curb movement of people to various countries for better treatment.