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NHS Costs

Community Veteran
Posts: 18,545
Thanks: 191
Registered: 12-08-2007

NHS Costs

Health tourism is costing the NHS more than £100M a year.  Think of how this money could be better spent on improving services. 
From today's Sunday Times:
Quote
Health tourists have left National Health Service hospitals struggling with unpaid bills totalling more than...before any treatment but others only ask for a written guarantee. Health minister Simon Burns said: “The NHS has a duty to anyone whose...

We have a National health Service not an International one and it is about time this practice was stopped.  Nobody argues that we should provide emergency care to anyone who needs it but the system is being abused.
19 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,316
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Registered: 21-03-2011

Re: NHS Costs

The executives of the Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust decided that the policy is people should be treated regardless of whether they have entitlement. There is a strong Bangladeshi component in the area and they and visitors (family etc) are not afraid to use the health services.  Hopefully the PCT has changed its tune, but I've heard all kinds of story about people getting of the plane with no entitlement and receiving MRI scans and non-urgent surgery. The situation often arises that people living in this country (not necessarily tax payer) think that  entitles their visiting relatives to treatment.
While I understand the need for compassion in the case of genuine emergency treatment if the person genuinely cannot afford to pay, but for non-urgent stuff they should either pay for private treatment or return to their own country.
I reckon the £100 Million figure is an underestimate.
Now Zen, but a +Net residue.
Community Veteran
Posts: 18,545
Thanks: 191
Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: NHS Costs

I think you may be right about the £100M figure being an underestimate.  It comes from a FOI request that was not answered by all trusts.
The nearest hospital to Heathrow is Ashford and they receive a disproportionate amount of health tourism.  Passengers arriving by plane simply call a cab and ask to be taken to the hospital.
Community Veteran
Posts: 18,545
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Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: NHS Costs

Some of the staggering bills run up are:
Surrey and St Helier University Hospitals Trust £1,174,580
Kings College Hospital London wrote off £342,847 in 2010-11
Birmingham Children's Hospital had one single case of £139,000 
Community Veteran
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Registered: 23-09-2010

Re: NHS Costs

Quite a few years back I remember thinking what mugs we are when a newspaper reported on the growing number of pregnant Americans coming here then having to use the NHS as they "accidentally" give birth much to their "surprise".
Community Veteran
Posts: 3,486
Registered: 02-10-2008

Re: NHS Costs

I totally agree we should be much more selective and vigilant. Of course emergency treatment on compassionate grounds, but why not demand proof of ID and entitlement. I've long lost my National insurance ID card - but they should be re-issued and demanded if any major treatment is needed, lucky I know my full NHS number off by heart. Visitors should be made to have health insurance to enter the country and maybe heavily pregnant women denied entry unless they have insurance.
And EU citizens to have their medical card with them on entry.
We are far too soft in this country, what is wrong with our politicians and civil servants.
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: NHS Costs

two more faces of it
When the wife went to St Barts coronary unit, at the pre surgary talk in(Lecture) was a man who could not speak englis, they had to take him out and get a very expensive translator to explain the procedures to him.  That was four years ago and I think the cost to them per year was over £5 million
then this today  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15330419 ; and the do gooders are complaining again
Quote
Hundreds of children are being detained at ports and airports by the UK Border Agency, the BBC has learned.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show 697 under 18s were detained between May and August at the Port of Dover and at airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted.
The Children's Society, which obtained the data, said it was "horrified" and called the numbers "excessive".

The Home Office said children were detained for no more than 24 hours.
This was while immigration checks were carried out, it said.
The documents, seen by the BBC, show that of those detained, more than a quarter were travelling alone.
Community Veteran
Posts: 18,545
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Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: NHS Costs

Quote from: mal0z
but why not demand proof of ID and entitlement. lucky Visitors should be made to have health insurance to enter the country and maybe heavily pregnant women denied entry unless they have insurance.

I agree, we should check that anyone coming into the country has the means to pay but it must be pointed out that we are not compelled to have insurance when we go abroad. 
I always have insurance and if I am in the EU I carry my EHIC.
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: NHS Costs

going back a few year's (The 90's) when Austria was not in the EU, one of our party damaged his leg, got in the way of a moving trailer.
We had no problem getting it looked at in the Nice Hospital in Zell-am- Zee, probably built for the Ski folk, but this was mid summer
Community Veteran
Posts: 18,545
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Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: NHS Costs

In the past it was the responsibility of airlines to ensure passengers were fit to travel and they were liable for returning passengers if this rule wasn't followed.  It must be obvious at check-in that a woman is pregnant for example but they are still allowed to travel.
In order to travel to the US passengers are screened prior to departure.  If anyone slips through this screening and gets stopped by immigration at the port of entry they are detained and returned on the next flight at the airlines expense. 
David_W
Rising Star
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Registered: 19-07-2007

Re: NHS Costs

The main issue I see is cost.  There is an American voice actor (who admittedly isn't very good, but then I strongly dislike American voice actors of Japanese anime as they all suck hehehe) who needs dental work, a bridge or something like that.  He is trying to raise the money to get his dental work done so he can continue being a voice actor (though if his voice is so important he should have been insured!).  To get the work done he needs $10,000.  In the UK to get the same treatment would cost about £200.
He could get on a plane, fly here and get the dental work done at a considerable saving, so it's a bit of a no-brainer (though being able to find a dentist who'll do the work on the NHS is another matter....).
My aunt in the US needed open heart surgery, she is British and a British citizen but has lived in the US for many years, she opted to have the operation in the US at a cost of $50,000 or something when she could have caught a plane back to the UK and had it done for free.
One solution that I can see, any person who obtains treatment on the NHS should be charged the amount they would have had to pay for treatment in their own country (excluding emergencies which should always be free).  Any health tourist who flies here would be hit by a huge bill which would have to be paid before treatment starts, no payment, no treatment.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 01-08-2007

Re: NHS Costs

Quote from: David

My aunt in the US needed open heart surgery, she is British and a British citizen but has lived in the US for many years, she opted to have the operation in the US at a cost of $50,000 or something when she could have caught a plane back to the UK and had it done for free.

Not so sure about that, someone I knew once was found to have a potential life threatening tumour. They'd been living abroad for 6 months, came back for treatment and the NHS claimed they were not entitled to treatment. Admittedly they were British so I suppose they didn't have the same rights that we give to foreigners..
I need a new signature... i'm bored of the old one!
Community Veteran
Posts: 18,545
Thanks: 191
Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: NHS Costs

@Sprite, you are right.  A British person living abroad is not entitled to free NHS treatment unless they have a EHIC from the country in which they live.
A Brit living in the US would not be able simply to return here and get NHS treatment unless it is an emergency.
David_W
Rising Star
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Registered: 19-07-2007

Re: NHS Costs

I think it could have been classed as requiring urgent attention, she had a hole in her heart which I guess it pretty serious.  This was a while ago, I was a teenager at the time so would have been when Major was PM although the 6 month rule could have been in place back then.  Not sure how they figure out residency though, I have my NHS card somewhere so if I went to Japan for a year (I wish!) and came back I'd still have my NHS card with my number on it.
Community Veteran
Posts: 18,545
Thanks: 191
Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: NHS Costs

The procedure is not as simple as turning up at a hospital and asking for an operation.  Firstly, you would have to find a GP who is willing to take you on his list.  If the GP was convinced you needed a consultant to see you then he would refer you to a hospital.  The consultant would then decide if/when you were treated within the NHS.  Unless the condition is an emergency this could take a number of weeks or even months which isn't very practical for someone who really lives abroad.