A failure to secured continued access to healthcare for elderly Britons living in the EU post-Brexit will increase strains on the social care sector, the government has been warned.
Ten of thousands of pensioners could return to the UK in the event of no Brexit deal, the Sunday Telegraph reported.
A government source said: “While we hope and expect to reach a deal, the government wants to make sure they cover every precaution.
“There is a question about whether the NHS could cope with the strain of a large-scale return of pensioners from the EU.
“Cabinet ministers were warned about it by government officials. They didn’t say it would happen, but they said it was something that should be avoided.”
Over half a million UK pensions live in other countries, including Ireland, Spain, France, Italy and Germany.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will not guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK unless Britons in the EU are given the same rights.
The government helps with the health care costs of Britons living abroad but says that social care costs are greater in the UK than the EU.
Brexit talks are scheduled to be triggered on Wednesday.