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Unpaid hospital bills from foreign ‘health tourists’ hit £40million in the last year


UNPAID hospital bills from “health tourists” have reached £40million in the past 12 months.

Bad debts and abandoned claims rose by £10million.

Alamy

Unpaid hospital bills from ‘health tourists’ has rocketed to £40million in 12 months[/caption]

Reuters

Boris Johnson promised a clampdown on health tourism in his 2019 Tory manifesto[/caption]

PM Boris Johnson’s Tory manifesto in 2019 promised a clampdown on health tourism, saying those from overseas would pay their “fair share”.

Current prices charged to overseas patients include £4,837 for a baby to be delivered, £14,000 for spinal services and £17,000 for heart surgery.

King’s College Hospital Trust in London has £18.6million outstanding and Barts Health, also in the capital, are owed £17.3million over the past five years.

The overall £40million cost covers NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts.

NHS rules state routine costs for overseas patients are paid before treatment begins.

But those needing emergency care would always be invoiced after their treatment.

Any debts that do arise from providing urgent care are pursued and taken into account in new visa applications.


The Government


An upfront payment scheme could net an estimated £500million. The TaxPayers’ Alliance said the health service “is used and abused by overseas visitors”.

The Government said: “We have recovered more than £2billion in income generated from visitors since 2015.

“Any debts that do arise from providing urgent care are pursued and taken into account in new visa applications.”

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