"The only screening GPs should be doing is for health diagnoses, not eligibility to free care", says UKIP’s Health Spokesman Louise Bours, in response to news of a new government pilot.
Under the trial, to be undertaken in ten areas of the country most affected by high immigration, patients registering for GP services will have to show their European Health Insurance card in order to help the government recover some of the costs from other EU countries.
The scheme could lead to British patients being asked to prove they are entitled to free NHS care. GP’s groups are against the plans saying it will turn GP’s into debt collectors.
UKIP’s Health Spokesman, Louise Bours MEP, said: “This system will be complicated to administer and take time away from GPs that they could be spending treating patients.
“The government should not be using doctors as border guards.
“GP appointments are already like gold-dust in some areas, and this will reduce the amount of time doctors can see patients even further.
“They only way to ensure everyone gets the treatment they are entitled to is to introduce compulsory health insurance for anyone visiting Britain. If someone need emergency treatment, clearly they will get it, this is more about people with conditions that require on-going or long term treatment.
“This would save the NHS the huge amounts it loses to health tourism each year, and could be spent on improving the NHS for everyone."
Ms Bours added: “It will be at the discretion of GPs who they check for eligibility and who they don’t, but in order to not cause offence they will probably check everybody, and that will take a lot of time and effort and is a clear waste of their expertise and training.”