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Yesterday the government announced that it was extending charges, including for accident and emergency treatment, as part of a “clampdown on abuse” of the National Health Service.
Under the changes, students from outside the European Union, alongside other migrants and visitors, will face charges for minor operations carried out by a general practitioner and accident and emergency services, although “no one will be turned away in an emergency”, according to a statement from the Department of Health.
Overseas visitors will also pay a higher, non-subsidised rate for optical and dental services.
In the statement, health minister Lord Howe said: “Having a universal health service free at the point of use rightly makes us the envy of the world, but we must make sure the system is fair to the hardworking British taxpayers who fund it.”
The department added that many of the changes would be rolled out in 2014, and that a detailed timeline on their introduction would become available in March.
Taking to Twitter, Daniel Stevens, the National Union of Students’ International Officer said he was enjoying a visit to his native Brazil “until the coalition Government ruined [it] with another ridiculous policy impacting migrants”.
He added on the social network: “Publishing a major NHS proposal for migrants on DEC 30TH is disgraceful, callous and just shows how political these proposals are.”