EU Referendum

REVEALED: EU health tourism ‘costing Britain HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of pounds every year’

BRITAIN is losing hundreds of millions of pounds every year through health tourism from the European Union, according to shock figures.

GETTY    Health tourism in the EU is costing the UK hundreds of millions of pounds, Brexit campaigners claim

The Vote Leave campaign last night said the UK forks out an average of £723million a year to treat UK nationals in EU countries and receives a tiny fraction for treating citizens of the EU in British hospitals.

Shocking statistics reveal that since 2007-2008, the UK has paid £6.18 billion to other EU member states for treatment of Britons.


GETTY   In 2014, there were 23 million visits by EU citizens to the UK

 And the UK got just £405million back from other EU member states, leaving an eye-watering deficit of £5.78billion.

Vote Leave believes the huge deficit could have paid for 17 new hospitals or trained more than 70,000 nurses or around 15,000 GPs.

Department of Health figures showed that in 2014-2015 alone, the UK had a deficit of £618million from EU health tourism – enough to employ an additional 4,458 NHS hospital consultants or abolish prescription fees in England.

Under the current system, Britons are entitled to a free European Health Insurance Card, giving them the right to access state-provided healthcare on temporary stays at a reduced cost, or sometimes free in EU countries.

This means that citizens of other member states can access NHS treatment.


GETTY   The deficit each year for the UK is hundreds of millions

Vote Leave chairwoman Gisela Stuart MP said: “The UK has been getting short changed by the EU for years. We hand over £350 million to Brussels every week but get less than half of that back – with strings attached.

“On top of that, health tourism from the EU has cost us billions. This money could have been much better spent – it could have been invested to improve care for NHS patients.

“If we vote Leave we will be able to stop handing over so much money to the EU and we would be able to spend our money on priorities here in the UK like abolishing prescription charges and investing in the NHS.”


GETTY   Vote Leave believes the money could have funded thousands more nurses

But the pro-EU camp has claimed Britons would be forced to pay for emergency medical treatment they receive while on holiday in Europe it the UK votes to leave on June 23.

A Britain Stronger in Europe spokesman said: “The millions of British people who holiday in, or go on business to Europe every year are safer and better off thanks to our membership of the EU, while leaving would put travellers at risk.”

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