A health tourist has racked up more than half a million pounds worth of medical fees after having treatment at a UK hospital. The unnamed patient, who is from outside the EU, received treatment from a Manchester hospital last year. However, due to ‘patient confidentiality’, the hospital has not disclosed what treatment they received, or indeed any information about the patient what so ever.
The incident means the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was left with a debt of £532,498, which is believed to be Britain’s highest ever recorded unpaid NHS bill, with no hope what so ever of ever being able to reclaim any of this money back.
Freedom of Information laws, which revealed the eye-watering debt, has found that the figure is £30,000 more than the previous highest health tourist debt, racked up by a woman who was jetted into Heathrow as she was pregnant with quadruplets.
Figures revealed under freedom of information laws confirm the scale of the problem with bills soaring for the 2016-17 financial year.
Dr Julia Reid MEP, who has previously worked for the NHS as a research biochemist, said that: “It is totally unacceptable that the British taxpayer has to now pick up the bill for this unnamed patient who has taken advantage of our National Health Service. For the £532,498 unpaid bill racked up by a single health tourist, Manchester Hospital could have bought two, perhaps even three, brand new MRI scanners”.
“Hopefully, the new regulations, which came into force last October, and that require patients to supply the hospitals with proof of residence, will help to combat some of the £2 billion lost to health tourism every year.
“Although the new regulations which came in effect last October are almost guaranteed to reduce the burden that health tourism is to the National Health Service, it won’t negate the whole problem, as those who have life-threatening conditions will still be treated, and rightly so. We, therefore, recommend that the Government fully implement UKIP’s policy which states that; all migrants and visitors who come to Britain must have approved medical insurance. Only then can we fully crack down on the problem of health tourism.”