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'Don't turn GP surgery into a border agency'

The chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners has warned that charging immigrants and visitors to the UK for NHS treatment could end up costing the taxpayer more money.

Dr Clare Gerada told the Today programme that "what we don't want to do is put people at risk ... not just the migrants but also us.

"People use the NHS if they've got infections and we certainly don't want to have people wandering around for fear of being charged at the GP surgery."

And she added: "At the moment we are fairly accessible and I think it is important to keep it that way.

"I don't think we should be turning the GP surgery into a border agency."

The government says it is planning to start charging some foreigners to use the NHS, in an effort to reduce so-called "health tourism". Under the plans, non-EU citizens paying for visas of six months or longer would be charged a health service fee, expected to be around £200 a year.

First broadcast on the Today programme on Wednesday 3 July

  • 03 Jul 2013
  • From the section Health