'More than six in ten doctors want to introduce charges for some patients, including fees for overseas patients attending Accident and Emergency units, a survey shows.
Ministers recently introduced “upfront” hospital charges for patients receiving planned treatment, if they are not eligible for free care.
The Government has also proposed charges for such patients in Accident & Emergency (A&E) units, but have so far held off introducing such plans following a backlash from some groups.
But polling of 583 doctors found that 63 per cent of doctors wanted to see some charges on patients introduced.
Of those, 74 per cent called for fees for patients who visit A&E or GP clinics who are not residents of the UK. As many called for charges for patients who did not turn up to their appointments.
Ministers are currently considering whether to introduce charges for overseas patients using A&E.
They are understood to have ruled out introducing “upfront” charges for A&E, in case it could deter those needing urgent care.
However, they are now exploring the feasibility of schemes to secure payment after emergency treatment, for those overseas patients who were not entitled to free care.
Health Minister Lord O'Shaughnessy said: "The NHS is a cherished national institution that is paid for by British taxpayers and as this survey shows, there is clinical support for recovering costs from those who are not eligible for free treatment.
“We are however committed to an NHS that is free at the point of use for those who are eligible, and they will never be charged for NHS treatment."'
Read more: Doctors call for charges for overseas patients using A&E units
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