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This is why the proposed rules on “health tourism” are discriminatory

October 22, 2013

The toxic debate on tackling all these “tourisms” is based on mostly anecdotal, and occasionally fictional, data. See here and here for examples. The measures being put forward are rooted in purely political, rather than policy reasons.


Here is my own anecdotal evidence. Attach to it whatever value you wish.

My good friend Mona is from Basildon. She has lived in Greece for just under 20 years – most of her adult life. She has never paid tax in the UK. She has been registered with the GP practice close to her parents’ home since before she left. She combines her one trip every year to visit her folks with general check-ups, gynaecological exams, assorted scans and, on three occasions, giving birth to her lovely children in the UK. She enjoys this on top of being entitled (quite rightly) to ambulance, emergency and any health services she wishes back in Greece. Her children will also enjoy all those dual services, by virtue of their in-uterus holiday/birth over here. I personally know dozens of people who do what Mona does.

I have lived in the UK for just over 20 years – most of my adult life. I would be asked to prove eligibility under the rules being proposed, at considerable stress, expense and wasted time for both me and the practice. And, yes, the considerable embarrassement of being picked on in public. Do you think Mona from Basildon will ever be asked to prove eligibility to receive healthcare entitlement in the UK? Of course not. She doesn’t have olive skin and an accent.

And this is why the proposed rules on “health tourism” are discriminatory and, possibly, illegal.

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