Immigrants whose claims to refugee status have been turned down will receive free treatment on the NHS, it has been revealed.
People who have their claim for asylum rejected are currently not entitled to free care, but ministers plan to extend the benefit to those who are unable to leave the country "through no fault of their own".
There will also be no healthcare charge for failed asylum seekers who are destitute, receiving government support or who have children.
Human rights laws prevent some asylum seekers from being sent home if it can be proven that they will be persecuted in their home country.
Ministers are also considering changing the law so that people with "significant debts" to the NHS would not be allowed back to the UK.
Health minister Ann Keen said the government was also considering a rule which would mean that foreign visitors would have to abide by certain health insurance requirements.
She said: "These changes will support a clearer and fairer system of access to free NHS services that will maintain the confidence of the public and prevent inappropriate access while maintaining our commitment to human rights."
Copyright © Press Association 2009
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"This is simply another strain on the shoulders of already struggling British taxpayers. We are the mugs of 'human rights' if ever there were any. What about the human rights of our elderly, some of whom fought for this country, who are having to take the back seat more often than not, having to sell their homes in order to qualify for care? Any guest to this country should have appropriate health insurance before being allowed in (which may be paid to NHS if necessary) and/or be on a sliding scale depending on their tax/NI contributions. What other country is so accommodating I wonder?" - Name and address supplied
"This is a good gesture but I feel that asylum seekers should be allowed to seek work if they have the necessary qualifications. This will keep them off benefits and they can be seen to be contributing to the economy. I am from a mixed race and I have been a victim of racist abuse, being called an asylum seeker coming to scrounge. I pointed out to this person that I was a student studying and paying an overseas fees rate, with a part time job to maintain as well, which enabled me to pay tax to the government." - Name and address supplied
"On the face of it outrageous legalisation of health tourism. However, when one gets to know individual hard cases, one's sense of compassion makes one want to help, at other tax payers' expense of course. Hard cases make bad law, so I think it should remain discretionary. We have to look after our
own people first." - George Denley, London
"Welcome changes long overdue, hopefully will allow for money saved from health tourism abuse to be put to continuing improvement in patient care for those who are rightly entitled to free NHS treatment" - V Henry, London
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