Fraudulent access to the NHS from overseas visitors

Fraud relating to inappropriate access to NHS secondary care by foreign nationals who avoid payment for services delivered.

It was estimated that the cost to the NHS in this area was approximately £2 billion.

It is assessed that between 0.02% and 0.06% of tourists entering the UK were predicted to be visiting with the intention of acquiring healthcare without charge or which they were not entitled to. Therefore, the NHSCFA assesses the potential fraud vulnerability rate as 0.04%.


from an expenditure of £2 billion

Financial fraud vulnerability: £ 56.7 million.

Due to COVID-19, changes in NHS regulations in relation to charging overseas patients for care meant that no charge can be made to overseas visitors for the diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19, up until a negative test. However, with varying travel restrictions and the introduction of patient locator forms, it is less likely that fraudulent access to NHS care from overseas visitors could occur.

Information reports received for Fraudulent access to the NHS from overseas visitors

Change in the number of fraud referrals (allegations) received in relation to Fraudulent access to the NHS from overseas visitors from 2016-17 to 2019-20.


decrease in referrals for this theme compared to last year

2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20
273 513 449 348