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New bill to charge migrants for NHS services

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The government's attempt to make Britain a less attractive destination for the world's poor and afflicted shifted focus to the NHS. A new bill will attempt to prevent migrants receiving free health care in the UK.

Foreigners will have to prove their right to be resident before they can consult a GP or get hospital treatment. Even foreign students will have to make a contribution towards the cost of their health care. “If you are not entitled to our free National Health Service you’ll have to pay for it," a source told the Telegraph. It seems like David Cameron's latest attempt to placate the xenophobic voters who are defecting to UKIP in droves.

The measures are part of a wider Immigration Bill, cracking down on immigrants' rights to social housing, to rent properties or to use the Human Rights Act to prevent deportation. Home Secretary Theresa May is already beginning to position herself as a right-wing hardliner in case the Tory Party decides it has had enough of what they see as a wishy-washy Prime Minister. Immigration is a soft target guaranteed to win votes, and May is fluent in the buzzwords.

The health measures at least amount to a fairly futile gesture from the government. Much of the resentment being exploited by UKIP revolves around the numbers of European immigrants making use of British health services. As citizens of EU states they have a perfect right to do so, and the new legislation will not affect them. Their ranks are about to be swollen by visitors from the latest EU members Romania and Bulgaria.

There is a considerable degree of health tourism in the UK from non-EU patients, but much of it tends to be wealthy visitors from the Middle East whose use of Harley Street clinics is not really impinging on NHS resources.

Of course the government knows this, but hopes the new legislation will be seen as acting to stem the concerns of the public, however ill-informed those concerns may be.

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