The Government has been urged to crack down on health tourism after it emerged that a Nigerian woman cost the NHS £350,000 by flying to Britain to give birth to twins. Luton and Dunstable University Hospital is said to be chasing payment for the caesarean section the unidentified woman had, followed by intensive care treatment for the two babies.
The incident was disclosed by the hospital following a freedom of information. The woman gave birth in 2015, and the hospital confirmed it was still owed £348,683 for the treatment. The hospital, which has one of just three paediatric intensive care units in the East of England region, said it could not refuse treatment if there was a “danger to life”.
The cost of health tourism is believed to add up to £280m each year. There were 13,077 overseas patients given treatment in the UK in 2015-16, according to data from the 90 hospitals who responded to the freedom of information requests. Of those, over 3,000 were mothers who arrived in the country to give birth.
A woman who gave birth to triplets has an outstanding bill of £319,895 to Imperial College Hospitals in London. Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “The NHS is in a critical state due to lack of resources, so any abuse from health tourism should be stopped.”
The figures follow suggestions that pregnant women could be forced to show their passports before giving birth at NHS hospitals. The plan was put forward by a London trust, which said maternity tourism was a growing problem across the country.
Source: The telegraph