A hospital spent £181,000 treating just one illegal immigrant, it was reported last night.
Details of the patient’s bill emerged as it was reported that millions of pounds in taxpayers’ money is being spent in cases where there is no hope of getting it back. More after the cut…
Portsmouth Hospitals Trust wrote off the £181,000 bill, according to The Sun. Another patient, a Ghanaian, was deported before a £42,000 bill was paid, leaving East and North Hertfordshire Trust to pick up the tab. The NHS admitted last year that it had failed to collect £65 million from foreign nationals, although the figure is expected to be higher because many patients are never identified.
A leading cancer specialist yesterday said no healthcare system could cope with the strain the NHS was put under by treating migrants, saying it was ‘absolutely unsustainable’. A quarter of all NHS trusts do not employ a dedicated member of staff to invoice health tourists.
Guy’s and St Thomas’s Trust in London wrote off £5.1million treating patients from overseas, and unpaid bills cost Barts Health Trust £268,000. One individual owes almost £500,000 to a top London hospital and another has received free kidney dialysis, three times a week, for nearly eight years, a Daily Mail investigation revealed.
Angus Dalgleish, a professor at St George’s, University of London, told The Sun: ‘What is the point of making all these terrible cuts to services when you’re not chasing the money you’re owed?
‘I know of very ill individuals who have arrived for treatment from other countries and gone straight into intensive care costing thousands of pounds a day. When I started in cancer treatment a course of drugs cost around £1,000. Now it’s £60,000 to £100,000.
‘The cost is huge. No other healthcare system in the world could cope with it and the abuse of this system must be stopped.’
The most notorious case of health tourism was Nigerian Bimbo Ayelabola, whose care while she gave birth to quintuplets cost taxpayers £145,000.
Ayelabola, 38, travelled to the UK from Lagos in 2011 and needed a caesarean at Homerton Hospital in East London. She returned to Nigeria without paying her bill and now works as a makeup artist in Lagos and drives a £17,000 car.
MigrationWatch UK chairman Lord Green said: ‘This is further evidence that the NHS is wide open to people who have no right to use it and make no contribution towards its costs.’
Britain paid more than £674 million last year to EU governments for the care of UK citizens abroad, yet NHS hospitals received only £49.7 million for foreigners treated here. The amount recouped by the NHS was down on the previous year’s £50.3 million. The total does not include the costs of European migrants who come to work in Britain, because they are entitled to free treatment under EU rules.
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘We’ve made it easier for hospitals to get back this money and we expect them to make sure they recover it.’