A HEALTH tourist has left behind a record £623,000 unpaid NHS bill. The patient failed to settle the debt after being treated by the UK’s Mid Essex NHS Trust. Hospital chiefs declined to reveal their name, nationality or the care they received, saying it would breach data protection laws. The bill is nearly £100,000 larger than previous highest single health tourism debt.
Campaigners warn that the NHS is still seen as a “soft touch” — despite a Government crackdown on foreign visitors abusing it. Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern, said: “This is big money and we can scarcely afford the NHS as it is without paying for all these people too. “I can’t believe there is not a better way of running the system so these bills are not left unpaid.”
UNPAID COST FURY
Trusts are supposed to charge overseas visitors upfront for non-urgent care. Although it’s apparent on this occasion it hasn’t happened.
Visiting EU nationals are covered by the European Health Insurance Card. Patients from outside Europe must either pay for hospital treatment or have health insurance that covers the cost. Maternity and other emergency treatment cannot be charged up- front and GP care is free for all. The Sun found five other ineligible foreigners also left without paying six-figure bills in 2017/2018 Causing a public outcry as to why this has been left uninvestigated and is not common public knowledge.
The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust said it was left with an unpaid £39,508 bill for treatment which should have been settled by the Libyan Embassy. A neurosurgery patient from China failed to pay £21,350 to the Sheffield Teaching Hospital and a Nigerian mum left a £46,073 debt at the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust.
According to Government estimates, ineligible patients cost the NHS up to £2billion a year. The sun revealed in May how rampant health tourism forced the NHS to write-off £27million in unpaid hospital bills last year. Credit content & images: The Sun Newspaper