Brit expats using local heathcare far outstrip NHS use by EU expats

Published:  25 Jan at 6 PM
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Despite fashionable media claims that EU expats are clogging up the NHS, recent research has proved the opposite is true.

It seems ‘fake news’ is as rampant in the UK as it’s claimed to be in the USA. British readers of the populist right-wing media have long been treated to scare stories about EU expats’ burden on the overstretched NHS, but a BBC Freedom of Information request tells a very different story.

Figures provided by the Ministry of Health reveal 70,000 retired UK citizens use the Spanish heathcare system, whereas just 81 Spanish expat pensioners use the NHS. Across the entire European Economic Are (EEA) region, some 145,000 Brit retirees access public healthcare in their countries of residence, while only 4,000 EEA citizens in the UK are registered with the NHS.

Admittedly, claimbacks from EEA member states to the UK government for expat medical treatment total huge amounts, but the statistics provided prove beyond a doubt that EU and EEA expats in Britain are not burdening the NHS. Another example is that of France, where 43,000 Brits are registered for the French health service, as against just 210 NHS-registered French expats in the UK. In Cyprus, 12,000 Brit retirees are covered by the local heathcare service, but less than five Cypriots living in the UK use NHS ervices.

However, the future of the present healthcare model is a major concern for Britishers living in European Union and EEA countries, as Theresa May’s concept of Brexit denies any chance of reciprocal rights to remain for either UK citizens overseas or EU citizens in the UK. At a recent meeting between representatives of expat protest groups and parliament’s Brexit Select Committee, MPs were told the vast majority of retired UK expats would be unable to afford private healthcare post-Brexit and would be forced to return to Britain as a result.

Debbie Williams, speaking on behalf of the Britons in Belgium group, claimed hundreds of thousands of expats would have no option other than relocating back home should reciprocal financial healthcare support be cancelled. Given the present parlous state of the NHS and taking into account that many of its workers are also expats who would be forced to leave, the already failing service might well collapse.
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