Health tourists cost the NHS billions per year

4 April 2013

A massive influx of severely ill patients and expectant mothers are flying in from around the world to take advantage of NHS services, costing the NHS billions of pounds each year.

Hospitals are forced to provide HIV, kidney, infertility and cancer treatment without compensation, as most so-called ‘health tourists’ flee the country before paying. The maternity ward seems to be the primary attraction; a leading health surgeon has described it as the ‘world’s maternity wing’, with thousands of expectant mothers landing in the UK just to give birth.

Following treatment, many avoid paying by committing identity fraud, claiming their hospital visit as emergency care, or simply by being wheeled back onto a return flight before the bill comes.

Professor Thomas, a consultant surgeon at the Royal Marsden Hospital London, believes
most Britons are unaware they are footing the bill for health tourism. Prof Thomas described abuse of the UK’s public healthcare system as a “massive and escalating” problem that “may be costing the NHS (and therefore the British taxpayer) not millions but billions of pounds every year”.

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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